The British Columbia Lottery Corporation (BCLC) believes that banks and financial-services firms have an ‘important role’ to play when it comes to supporting the financial wellbeing of their customers and their healthy-gambling decisions.

That was the focus of BCLC’s recent New Horizons in Responsible Gambling pre-conference session ‘Banking on a Different Perspective: The Financial Industry’s Role in Safer Gambling’.

Dr Jamie Wiebe, Director of Player Health at BCLC, explained it was important for BCLC to host this session to further the dialogue around how different industries can work together to better support players.

Wiebe said: “Banks have an important role to play in helping gambling operators better understand the relationship between their customers’ spending and gambling behaviours, which helps the gambling industry enhance our tools in response.

“As the industry looks to support the health and wellbeing of our players overall, it’s critical that we engage with other industries in these important discussions that identify new learnings that help shape our collective approach.”

Session speaker Natalie Ledward, Vulnerability Manager at Monzo Bank Ltd in the UK, detailed the bank’s strategy to provide digital tools and support resources to customers who request help with gambling-related financial decisions.

Monzo introduced a gambling blocking tool in 2018, allowing customers to temporarily suspend gambling purchases from their accounts. Using unique merchant codes provided by major credit card companies, the system identifies when a customer attempts to make a gambling-related purchase and prevents them from doing so.

Ledward commented: “Banks play a huge role in identifying people’s spending habits. They have the opportunity to be the first to find out about their customers’ gambling behaviours and can begin to offer those customers help.”

Session panelist Simon McNair, Policy Advisor at the UK-based Behavioural Insight Team, shared how banks can play a more significant role in providing perspective about how gambling behaviours factor into broader financial behaviours.

McNair stated: “Banks show a great degree of pro-activity already. Controlling gambling behaviour, especially more problematic behaviour, is absolutely in-part a money-management issue.

“Helping customers to that end will have numerous benefits – from helping people to keep their accounts in good standing, preventing people from falling into debt, or to helping them to pay down debt.”

McNair explained as well how a tool like a gambling block can support more informed gambling transactions, adding how financial harm is a key sign of problem gambling, making it essential for banks to have strategies and tools in place to help their customers who may experience gambling issues.