- NatWest and GamCare partner to offer counseling services to gambling addicts
- The program will be rolled out at 13 NatWest branches and later to all 700 branches if successful
- The partnership received support from the government through Secretary of State for Digital Culture, Media and Sport, Nicky Morgan
NatWest and GamCare to provide face-to-face counseling sessions to gambling addicts in the new partnership.
NatWest and GamCare Partner to Offer Counseling Services to Gambling Addicts
NatWest and GamCare have entered a partnership that will see the British retail and commercial bank provide counseling sessions to gambling addicts on a face-to-face level. The partnership will see GamCare take advantage of NatWest’s branches across the country to provide talking therapies.
The program is set to launch on a pilot basis with GamCare counseling experts set to be available in 13 branches. According to the lender, the pilot project will be available in the South East of the country, East of England, the Midlands, and in London.
Further, if the pilot is successful, the lender could extend the counseling services to more branches. NatWest currently operates 700 branches in the UK
GamCare development director, Mike Kenward, said that they’ll also train NatWest staff on how to handle gambling addicts. NatWest, on its part, is already providing specialist vulnerability training to 600 of its staff members.
The partnership with GamCare sees NatWest join its peers such as Monzo and Barclays in suspending customer bank accounts and credit cards if they feel that they are slipping into gambling addiction. According to NatWest, customers will be able to block gambling transactions through their mobile app.
Banks are already monitoring customers’ accounts with the view of identifying unusual spending habits including extreme losses to casinos and bookmakers. According to Kenward, banks are in an excellent position to help gambling addicts.
This he said after acknowledging the relationship between financial and gambling problems despite the limited information about the same.
Gambling Menace: A Problem in the UK
In recent research conducted by industry regulator, the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC), around 340,000 adults are struggling with gambling addiction. This figure represents 0.7% of the adult population. Also, another 550,000 people are said to be affected by gambling in other ways, the worst being increased risks of suicide.
The recent partnership between NatWest and GamCare has also received support from the government through Secretary of State for Digital Culture, Media and Sport, Nicky Morgan. She said that she welcomed the measures and that she would follow up on the progress.
In addition, Nicky Morgan urged more banks to follow suit to help their customers noting that helping them avoid gambling risks is vital. Currently, the UK Gambling Commission spends 1bn to treat gambling problems. This is costly to the economy despite the numerous efforts to alleviate the situation.
Even so, the reality of underfunding is clear, which is why Nicky Morgan called for more support from banks. Currently, England has only two gambling addiction centers with the nationwide self-exclusion program, a scheme created for gambling addicts to restrict their betting activities, suffering severe setbacks.