Bank payment blocks improvements to help problem gamblers

GamCare urges work on payments blocks to gambling sites

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GamCare urges work on payments blocks to gambling sites
GamCare is attempting to strengthen payment blocking precautions for problem gamblers.

UK charity GamCare has requested that banks raise consumer awareness of gambling blocks to enable gamblers to take advantage of them before experiencing gambling harm.

GamCare highlighted the importance of improving bank gambling blocks as well as how much these options benefit consumers. The charity also discussed raising awareness of these gambling blocks and promoting additional support for vulnerable customers.

Bank blocks are tools that aid the self-exclusion process of problem gamblers and helps stop gambling transactions with gambling operators through their bank’s current account.

Despite the effectiveness of the block, according to GamCare, most gamblers find out about it after experiencing gambling harm. Several people who contacted the UK charity for support revealed that they were only made aware of the gambling support tool after their addiction spiraled out of control.

Recovering problem gambler Jonathan emphasized the need to raise awareness for the bank gambling blocks, particularly with people still struggling with problem gambling.

“The gambling block offered by my bank has been a key pillar in my recovery, but more publicity is needed to raise awareness of bank gambling blocks, especially amongst those struggling with their gambling,” he said.

“Having this block in place, coupled with self-exclusion from online gambling, gives me a breathing space and a sense of security, especially when big sporting events are on.”

GamCare organized its second workshop on bank gambling blocks earlier this year, focusing on new ways to increase consumer awareness of the blocks and similar gambling management tools.

The Gambling Related Financial Harm (GRFH) featured 67 attendees who were spoken to by expert speakers about increasing awareness of gambling support tools. This was emphasized as a crucial step in improving bank gambling blocks.

Banks were also encouraged to promote the tools and notify customers, especially those with vulnerability markers on their accounts. The attendees likewise recommended that financial institutions routinely refer customers with vulnerability markers on their accounts to outside gambling support like TalkBanStop. The program is a joint initiative between GamCare, Gamstop, and Gamban.

Deelan Maru, from GamCare’s Behavioural Insights Team, stated that the inconsistent naming conventions used by different banks was a challenge faced by bank gambling payment blocks. The diverse terms reportedly cause confusion and ambiguity among customers.

“Our analysis of bank gambling tools shows that gambling blocks have inconsistent naming conventions across different banking apps. For example, one bank may call it ‘card freeze’, whilst another would place it under ‘merchant control’ or ‘restriction’ settings – ultimately causing ambiguity and confusion for the consumer,” Maru said.

“Offering these tools in intuitive locations and adopting consistent naming across the finance sector could help drive awareness and adoption of gambling management tools, ensuring more vulnerable customers are protected from gambling harms.”

A spokesperson from the UK’s Betting and Gaming Council also disclosed the launch of a registry that will contain the bank details of all its members. The council revealed that after inputting the data into their systems, banks would be able to block gambling payments faster as well as transfers when the block is set up.

Financial institutions were also encouraged by the Financial Ombudsman Service to routinely test out and keep track of the gambling support tools. Banks were also urged to explore other support options that can be used to shield gamblers.

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