GambleAware say bank blockers need to be standardised

  • Updated
  • By Max Wright
GambleAware bank blockers
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The responsible gambling charity GambleAware has made a statement urging banks, the Gambling Commission and the government to standardise gambling block options on all bank accounts in the UK. This follows a study into gambling blockers on bank cards has unearthed that 40% of bank accounts don’t offer this functionality.

Though it can be easy for many gamblers to stick to their limits and quit while they’re ahead, that isn’t the case for everyone. Some people are vulnerable to gambling harm, and an addiction to gambling can ruin someone’s life. This is why responsible gambling tools are so important and should be available for everyone. 

One handy RG tool that’s been implemented in recent years gives people the option of blocking all gambling transactions on their bank card or bank account. Banks like Monzo, Barclays and HSBC all offer this service, where you can use the bank’s respective apps to toggle the gambling blocks for a short period of time, or even indefinitely.

However a study from the University of Bristol’s Personal Finance Research Centre into gambling blockers on bank cards has discovered that only 60% of current accounts in the UK have the option of blocking gambling transactions, meaning more than 28m bank accounts are without this option.

If the system were to be standardised, not only would nearly 77 million bank accounts be equipped with the protective measure, but GambleAware also thinks it would be an opportunity for the tool’s effectiveness to be improved. 

Currently, three of the eight currently active gambling transaction blockers can be turned on and off immediately, with no time buffer in place. This means a problem gambler simply needs to log into the bank app and switch it off, making it ineffective as a responsible gambling tool.

Professor Sharon Collard, the research director of the PFRC notes that “positive friction” is the key to making these bank blockers effective. “It is vital … that the blockers cannot just be turned on and off, as the benefits of the technology become redundant.

Professor Collard continues “We recommend all financial service firms require consumers to wait at least two days between requesting to turn the blocker off, and the blocker technology stopping." This time-buffer could be the difference between a vulnerable player chasing losses and that same player taking the time to cool off.

Other proposed improvements include better highlighting of the availability of these tools by banks, including an awareness campaign that both the banks and gambling regulators are involved in. There would also need to be research and work done to ensure that players can’t work around the block, and to make sure that all gambling products are included.

In April this year, the Gambling Commission banned the use of credit cards on online casino sites after a study found that credit cards made up a large portion of deposits made by problem gamblers.

This responsible gambling move meant that players now have to use either a debit card or another bingo payment method if they want to make a deposit at their favourite bingo site. A ubiquitous gambling transaction blocker is definitely the next logical step to protect players from gambling harm at a purchase level.