GambleAware to explore how banks can tackle problem gambling

26 September 2019

Problem gambling funding body GambleAware has partnered the University of Bristol on a new research project examining how UK banks and other financial services organisations can help people suffering with or are at risk of gambling-related harm.

Researchers from the university’s Personal Finance Research Centre (PFRC) will now work with GambleAware on a three-year programme to look at the current measures banks have in place to combat problem gambling and what more can be done to help protect consumers.

Staff will engage with people affected by problem gambling, as well as those working in the gambling and financial industries, and treatment and support organisations, to explore ways to mitigate financial losses and other harms inflicted by risky gambling behaviour.

During the first six months of the initiative, researchers will primarily focus on the effectiveness of current gambling blocks and how their potential could be maximised.

Other areas of focus throughout the project could include practical guidance for financial services organisations about how to support those customers affected by gambling, as well as identifying effective financial self-help for gamblers, and the feasibility of a ‘single gateway’ for credit self-exclusion.

“We know that people in recovery from problem gambling already use informal workarounds to prevent themselves from spending money on gambling, such as forfeiting their card to a third party or scratching off the card security number," said Professor Sharon Collard of the PFRC, who is leading the programme.

“The new solutions from banks, however, allow customers to do this more formally – and, possibly, more successfully," she explained. "But at present there is limited evidence about the effectiveness of such spending controls, nor about the characteristics of those who use them.

“We’re looking forward to working with a wide range of stakeholders – especially those with lived experience of problem gambling - to come up with some real tangible solutions to benefit everyone.”

Dr Jane Rigbye, director of education at GambleAware, added: “We want to prevent people from getting into problems with their gambling and we welcome the proactive steps that some banks have taken to protect their customers.

“People must be able to gamble in a safe environment, so we are pleased to be commissioning this project to determine how financial organisations can best protect people from gambling harm.”

The UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the National Problem Gambling Clinic in London have also declared their support for the new programme.

“We welcome this new research, which aims to support initiatives to protect vulnerable consumers from harm," Christopher Woolard, executive director of strategy and competition at the FCA, said. "We look forward to the outcomes with interest.”

Dr Henrietta Bowden-Jones, consultant psychiatrist in addictions and director of the National Problem Gambling Clinic in London, added: “The financial services sector can play an important role in helping create a safer environment for people with gambling problems, for example by making it easier for individuals to limit their gambling spend.”

GambleAware has launched a number of initiatives in recent months in an effort to clamp down on problem gambling and secure greater protection to players.

Last week, GambleAware joined forces with digital family life specialist Parent Zone on a new initiative designed to educate families about potential risks faced by children when playing online video games.

Other recent activities include rolling out the second wave of activity for its Bet Regret safer gambling campaign, with support from GVC Holdings. GVC, the parent company of Ladbrokes Coral Group, is donating branding rights from its football sponsorship deals to the next wave of activity.