UK banks explore problem gambling spending controls

4 January 2019

Three of the UK’s biggest banking groups are exploring ways to support customers who are problem gamblers, although the trio have denied that definitive timeframes for the introduction of payment-blocking tools have been finalised.

Lloyds Bank, Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and Santander Bank have all confirmed to iGamingBusiness.com that they are considering introducing new tools for clients that would allow them to block debit card transactions to certain sectors, including gambling.

This would bring the trio in line with Barclays Bank, which introduced controls that give customers the option to block or limit transactions with gambling websites, lottery tickets and scratch cards, as well as at retail betting shops, casinos and race tracks in December 2018.

While UK media has suggested that the three banks are likely to introduce such controls within months, all denied that launch dates had been set.

“We are working on functionality for debit card holders to turn off a number of broad categories of spend, for example gambling,” a Santander spokesperson said.

RBS, which also owns the high street banking chain NatWest, added: “We recently launched the ability for our customers to freeze their credit cards and set spending budgets using our mobile app, and are always looking at further ways to help customers manage their money.”

Lloyds, which like Santander and RBS also told iGamingBusiness.com that it had not offered any guidance on when exactly such tools could be brought in, said: “We have plans to support our customers who need help with gambling.

“Throughout 2019 we will be enhancing our customer communications so customers are informed and alerted to their gambling spend as well as introducing tools to improve self-service options such as gambling restrictions.

“New card controls give customers more control over debit card transactions for extra peace of mind. This will allow users to quickly and securely restrict card usage, for example if a card has temporarily been misplaced or to avoid a card to be used in certain ways.”

Barclays became the first high-street bank to enable customers to block transactions with gambling companies last month.

After working with the Money Advice Trust and other advisers to develop the required tools, Barclays Mobile Banking app users can now block and control spending on gambling, supermarkets, restaurants, takeaways, pubs and bars, fuel and premium rate websites and phone lines

Earlier in 2018, digital banking services Monzo and Starling Bank introduced voluntary schemes to allow customers to block gambling transactions.