GamCare calls for greater awareness of Gambling Blocks

GamCare has submitted its guidance on how to enhance bank gambling blocks, as part of its ‘cross-sector’ Gambling Related Financial Harm (GRFH) programme. 

GRFH aims to combine the knowhow and knowledge of finance and gambling companies to cooperate and develop resources and deepen support to financial risks of gambling harms.

In March, GamCare hosted a GRFH a virtual workshop with 67 attendees to analyse “how bank gambling blocks can be improved to better support vulnerable clients experiencing gambling harms, and the opportunities for banks to go beyond the blocking tool to support those affected”. 

Delegates and speakers at the event comprised representatives from the Financial Ombudsman Service, Behavioural Insights Team, TSB Bank, the Betting and Gaming Council, and an individual with personal experience of gambling harm.

During the discussion, it was highlighted by GamCare that many people who sought support learned about the blocks only after their problems escalated. 

A delegate with lived experience of gambling harm, identified as Jonathan, stated: “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.”

GamCare’s report offers several key insights and recommendations about bank gambling blocks, categorised into five distinct areas:

  1. Raising awareness about gambling management tools.
  2. Initiating the gambling block.
  3. Deactivating the gambling block.
  4. Addressing loopholes in gambling blocks.
  5. Providing additional support for vulnerable customers.

In terms of increasing awareness, GamCare urged banks to proactively inform customers about the availability of gambling support tools. This is especially significant for accounts that have been already tagged as vulnerable.

Further, the report emphasised that financial services should launch media campaigns for gambling blocks, make the related management tools easily accessible, train frontline staff in discussing such tools and help customers activate these blocks. 

Notably, a call was made to standardise the naming of gambling blocks across the industry. Deelan Maru from the Behavioural Insights Team pointed out that “gambling blocks have inconsistent naming conventions across different banking apps,” which leads to ambiguity and confusion for consumers.

The report also shed light on improving the process of activating and deactivating gambling blocks. Banks should reassure customers that activating these blocks won’t negatively affect their credit scores or future applications. They should also provide information on how the blocks function and the possibility of customising them. 

Addressing data loopholes, the report suggested that blocks should be active even within an e-wallet/mobile wallet. It also encouraged banks to develop mechanisms to stop transactions to unlicensed or overseas operators and to fix blocks that aren’t working correctly.

As such, GamCare advised banks to offer additional gambling support to vulnerable customers. This includes options to set gambling spending limits, offer more gambling management tools and warm referrals to the National Gambling Helpline.

The Financial Ombudsman Service also joined in, recommending banks to continuously test and monitor gambling management tools and explore other support options for protecting vulnerable customers.

 In conclusion, the report signifies GamCare’s commitment to creating a safer environment for customers prone to gambling harms, by providing actionable insights and recommendations to banking institutions and stakeholders in the financial sector.