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UK Banks Urged to Improve Card Blocking to Help Problem Gamblers

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The gambling charity, GambleAware, has urged banks to improve their card blocking systems in order to help those with gambling problems.

The call comes after research found that 40% of current accounts have no option to block payments to gambling websites. The UK loses £1.2bn each year to problem gambling.

Customers having the option of asking their bank to restrict payments to gambling sites is understood to be a crucial part of helping those whose gambling habit is not under control.

The research was carried out by the University of Bristol’s personal finance centre on behalf of GambleAware. The researchers discovered that only eight companies currently offer their customers the ability to prevent payments being made from their accounts to gambling websites, whilst other companies offering the option make it too easy to turn off the controls.

CapitalOne and Nationwide are two of the banks that do not have a standard feature to block card payments to gambling websites. Barclays, NatWest and Santander offer a gambling block facility but allow it to be turned off whenever the user chooses.

The authors of the report have urged regulators to force all banks to have card blocking facilities in place on their accounts, with the inability to lift such a restriction for 48 hours. They have also urged financial institutions to take more action to increase awareness that such blockers are available for their customers.

The University of Bristol’s Prof Sharon Collard, said: “Our research has found bank card gambling blockers are not available on roughly 40% of personal current accounts. This means an estimated 28 million people are missing out on this crucial tool to block gambling expenditure which helps protect them from harm. We are calling on the Financial Conduct Authority to urgently recommend that gambling blocks are standard on all debit and credit cards.”

Chief executive of GambleAware, Marc Etches, said: “While some banks have taken proactive steps to help shield their customers from gambling harms, the findings of this research indicate that improvements can and should be made. We encourage the banking industry to work together alongside the Government and regulators to implement the proposed recommendations.”

In the face of a growing consensus between addiction experts and MPs that the current legislation is ineffective, ministers pledged last week to review the 2005 Gambling Act.

Harry Pererra
Harry Pererra

Harry turns on his experience in journalism and programming to write about the latest news in the world of tech and the environemtn. When he isn’t writing for usave he is working towards his Blue Belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and prefers dogs to cats.

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