| HSBC join many
other banks to allow customers to prevent themselves from spending money with
bookmakers and online casinos
Europes largest bank will offer its 14.5 million UK
customers the option to self-exclude from all gambling transactions, a
restriction that can only be reversed after a 24-hour cooling-off
It said the scheme, designed in partnership with the charities
GamCare and GambleAware, would create positive friction by giving
customers time to consider their urge to gamble.
The bank said the move
was a response to concerns expressed by its customers about the impact that
betting is having on their finances.
More than half a million of its
customers placed bets every month in 2018, spending an average of £52.50,
while it receives more than 12,000 calls from customers about gambling per
It has trained staff to respond to these calls with the help of
GamCare and will also analyse data on card spending to see who might benefit
HSBCs move to help people who are trying to rein in
their gambling is part of a growing trend in the financial sector to arm
customers with technological tools to do so.
Dr Heather Wardle, an
assistant professor and gambling behaviour researcher at the London School of
Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said: The financial sector is a key
enabler of the gambling industry without them online gambling
So its right that banks and other
financial institutions take the protection of people from gambling harms
Last month NatWest declared it would offer counselling
sessions for gambling addicts inside branches as part of a groundbreaking pilot
scheme that could be rolled out across the country. People who think they have
a gambling problem will be able to make appointments to see experts from the
charity GamCare in 13 branches of NatWest, even if they are not customers of
NatWest, part of state-owned Royal Bank of Scotland, said the
trial would begin in London and the south-east, the Midlands and east of
England, and the service could be introduced in more of its 700 branches.
It is also joining other lenders such as Monzo, Barclays and Starling
by allowing customers to block gambling transactions on their bank accounts or
credit cards through its mobile app.
A national self-exclusion scheme
designed to help addicts bar themselves from betting has suffered from teething
problems, while campaigners have complained that addiction services are
underfunded and not widely available.
NatWest said it wanted to help
tackle the problem by using floorspace in branches to offer advice in a
discreet environment. Some customers might be uncomfortable going to an
addiction centre, said NatWests head of lending, Phil Sheehy.
This is an accessible and neutral environment.
influential cross-party group of MPs recently called for much stricter
regulation of online gambling saying that online casinos should be subject to
maximum stake limits similar to the £2 limits imposed on fixed-odds
betting terminals (FOBTs), according to a report released by a group of MPs who
are demanding a root and branch overhaul of gambling
Earlier a similar government review of gambling regulation
suggested a ban on using credit cards for online gambling and a mandatory levy
on gambling firms to fund addiction treatment.
Shares in gambling
companies have suffered badly after it was revealed that a cross-party group of
MPs had been pushing for much tighter curbs on online gambling. The proposals
also included reform of VIP accounts, which have cropped up in multiple cases
in which the Gambling commission has issued sanctions against gambling
companies, including Betfred, Gala Coral, 32Red and LeoVegas.
recent speech to gambling firms in Malta, the
commissions chief executive, Neil McArthur, said the regulator was
looking at schemes to use "all our tools to encourage or mandate changes in the
interests of consumer protection around VIP schemes and inducements", and that
they had received an offer from one operator to draw up a code of conduct.