GambleAware: 28 Million People in the UK Don’t Have Access to Gambling Block Feature

A latest research by GambleAware points out that some 28 million people in the UK don’t have access to a gambling block feature. The research urges that changes can and should be made. As a part of the report, GambleAware released recommendations on reducing gambling-related harm.

GambleAware’s Research on Bank Card Gambling Blockers

The gambling charity GambleAware released its research “A Blueprint for Bank Card Gambling Blockers” yesterday. GambleAware’s paper analyzed UK’s bank card gambling blockers. The research found that some: “28 million personal current accounts and 35 million credit cards may not offer account holders the option to block gambling expenditure.

The research was led by the University of Bristol and its authors were: Jamie Evans, Sharon Collard and Chris Fitch. The researchers that led the report are a part of the university’s Personal Finance Research Centre (PFRC). According to the research, bank card blockers can protect users from gambling-related harm when combined with other methods for self-exclusion. In contrast, the research outlined that some 43% of the interviewed people were not even aware that the bank gambling blocks exist.

Furthermore, the researches expressed their concern about the low levels of awareness among people, who might benefit from using a gambling bank blocker. With that being said, the research shared data provided by one firm which showed an average of 2-3 blocked gambling transactions monthly. According to this data, across all of the users using a card blocker, this showed 390,000-585,000 blocked gambling transactions per month. In addition, the research outlined that among the interviewed people with gambling problems, some 30% (26/88) have activated card blocker. More than half of that group (18/26) said that they spent less or no money on gambling since using the blocker.

GambleAware CEO and PFRC Research Director Comment on the Subject

GambleAware chief executive, Marc Etches commented on the topic by saying: “Keeping people safe from gambling harms requires banks to play their full part in providing consumers with effective means to block gambling transactions.” According to Etches, some banks have already been proactive in helping their clients. However, he outlined that based on the research: “improvements can and should be made.” In conclusion, Etches urged the Government and bank industry to collaborate on the topic. He did not miss to mention the need for the proposed recommendations to be implemented by the regulators.

PFRC research director, Professor Sharon Collard pointed out: “Our research has found bank card gambling blockers are not available on roughly 40 percent of personal current accounts.” Professor Collard pointed out that this translates to 28 million people, who are missing on the gambling block. She also said that the PFRC is calling on the Financial Conduct Authority to introduce gambling block as a standard feature for debit and credit cards. Professor Collard continued by saying that the team examined the effectiveness of existing card blockers and pointed out that changes are necessary. She stressed:

The people affected by gambling harms who took part in the review stated the more positive friction that can be built into a bank blocker, the more effective it can be.

Professor Collard did not miss to say that it is imperative that blockers cannot be turned on and off freely. According to her, a requirement must be set for at least two days of waiting period when requesting to turn off a gambling blocker.

The Blueprint for Bank Card Gambling Blockers included recommendations on how banks can better use gambling blocks in order to reduce gambling-related harms. According to the research the option to block gambling transactions must be a standard feature for all cards. It also recommends that credit cards are offered with gambling blocks continuously. Furthermore, the research pointed out that customers must be aware that gambling block is available for them if they want to use it.

Additional recommendations suggested by the research listed signposts containing details for other methods of self-exclusion. The research also suggested that a time-released mechanism needs to be implemented in the gambling blocks. Additionally, the research urged that the customers have a way of reporting incorrect gambling merchants which cases are to be dealt swiftly and also reported to the Gambling Commission. Last but not least, the research suggested limits for cash withdrawals as well as signposts informing customers for gambling blocks regarding this option.

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