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Calls for improving bank gambling blocks across the user journey

GamCare has published the latest recommendations for improving bank gambling blocks across the user journey, from increased awareness to additional support beyond the block for vulnerable customers.

Bank gambling blocks are free tools that help customers block gambling transactions through their bank’s current account. Earlier this year, we facilitated our second workshop on bank gambling blocks, with this event exploring ways to drive consumer awareness of gambling management tools, how these tools can be improved to support the diverse needs of vulnerable consumers.

Many people who have reached out to us for support, tell us that whilst gambling blocks are a key component of their recovery toolkit now, they learnt about the blocks only after their gambling escalated.

Jonathan, who is in recovery from gambling harms, said: “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. 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.”

Deelan Maru from the Behavioural Insights Team agrees that the banking sector could do more to inform customers about their gambling management tools:

“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. 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.”

The workshop brought together 67 attendees, who heard updates, insights and ideas from a panel of expert speakers. Raising awareness of gambling tools was one of the key themes discussed, with many attendees supporting the idea of banks proactively telling customers about gambling support tools, particularly if they already have vulnerability markers on their account. Another popular recommendation was for banks to ensure they routinely refer customers to external gambling support, including TalkBanStop.

A representative from the Betting and Gaming Council, UK’s industry body, announced the launch of a registry containing bank account details for their members. By implementing this data into their systems, banks can stop faster payments and transfers to gambling companies when a gambling block is in place.

Speakers from the Financial Ombudsman Service urged the banks to continuously test and monitor gambling management tools, but also to look beyond the gambling block to explore other support options they can put in place to protect vulnerable customers.

The full report from this event is available to download, and summarises the key recommendations for banks to consider, ranging from increasing awareness about the blocks to their functionality, friction and additional support.

This was our second Gambling Related Financial Harm (GRFH) event on bank gambling blocks - we held our first GRFH Insight Workshop in 2021 to better understand how consumers might be able to circumvent these blocks. The summary from this past event provides further details about gambling block loopholes.

To find out more about gambling management tools, read our guide to bank gambling blocks.