Thursday, 29 October 2020

NatWest Adds 48-Hour Cooling-Off Period To Debit Card Gambling Blocker

Debit Card

NatWest has announced that the launch of a 48-hour gambling block feature on debit cards.

High street bank NatWest, like many other UK banks, has this week launched a special feature which allows customers to block all gambling-related transactions to their bank account or debit cards for a minimum period of 48 hours, according to SBC News.

The brand new blocking feature is an extension of NatWest’s existing blocking mechanic on credit cards which allows customers to ban gambling transactions on their credit cards. NatWest implemented the feature before the UK Gambling Commission’s decision to ban all credit card gambling transactions back in April.

All customers can access NatWest’s new gambling blocker in the mobile app, and it can be enabled in the ‘Manage My Card’ section of the app under Card Payment Controls’. The popular high street bank has stated that it’s implemented the feature to help customers take more control of their spending.

Although NatWest has confirmed to have witnessed a decline in gambling transactions during lockdown, it’s reported that spend among its customers has begun to “increase rapidly” since lockdown measures eased.

The introduction of the new debit and credit card blocker comes after NatWest entered into a partnership with gambling charity GamCare. Under the partnership, the two firms provide support and advice on the treatment for gambling-related problems, and GamCare has provided NatWest’s support team with training on how to identify customers suffering from gambling harm.

David Lindberg, the CEO of retail banking at NatWest, said in a statement: “The introduction of a gambling block for debit card customers will help us to equip gamblers experiencing harm across the UK with more tools to support their recovery. At NatWest, our partnership with GamCare is hugely important.

“Excessive gambling and financial hardship go hand in hand, and over the last year, we have offered an increasing amount of help to those customers who need it most through our trained specialists and by donating branch space for treatment therapy to reduce barriers to access. I look forward to developing this work further and offering greater access to services through our work with GamCare.”

Anna Hemmings, the CEO of GamCare, added: “The ability to block gambling transactions through your bank card or app is an important tool for those struggling with their gambling, and is ideally used together with other practical tools such as self-exclusion, blocking software, and specialist support around the issue.”

The implementation of a gambling blocker on debit cards was also praised by MP Carolyn Harris, the Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Gambling Related Harm, who said the financial services sector has a key role to play in the prevention of gambling-related harm.

Most UK Problem Gamblers Don’t Get Help, New Report Finds

The news comes after a brand new report from the National Gambling Treatment Service found that less than 3% of all problem gamblers within the UK receive the proper treatment they require and that more than 9,000 people received support in the year to March 2020.

According to The Guardian, of the 9,008 people who were treated, 45% had built up a debt of more than £5,000, were going through a debt repayment scheme, or were bankrupt. The report also claims that they spent a median average of around £2,000 in the month prior to receiving treatment. Around a quarter of those had lost a relationship due to their gambling problem, and 12% had lost a job.

The National Gambling Treatment Service’s report also found that while most people in treatment saw improvement, around 40% of those who completed treatment were still classed as problem gamblers. The report also unveiled some key facts about those in treatment including that of the 9,008 people, 75% were men in their twenties or thirties, while the remaining 25% consisted of women. Meanwhile, almost 60% of those who underwent treatment said they had experienced a “big win” when they had first begun gambling.

Around 13% of those in treatment did not consider themselves to be problem gamblers but “affected others” who were harmed by someone else, while the vast majority (84%) considered themselves problem gamblers, and just under 3% were considered to be someone at risk of developing a gambling problem.

The National Gambling Treatment Service’s report also found that the most popular product among those problem gamers are slot machines which were used by 26% of people in treatment, sports betting which was used by 25% of people, and fixed-offs betting terminals which 20% of those seeking treatment claimed to use.

However, the report did find that between the 2019 and 2020 period, around 68% of people underwent problem gambling treatment had successfully completed it, while 24% dropped out, and 5% were discharged “by agreement”. An addition 1% of people were referred on following an assessment.

Marc Etches, the Chief Executive of GambeAware, said in a statement: “The publication of this detailed analysis, of the impact the National Gambling Treatment Service can have on people receiving support, is a significant milestone.”

The news comes as the UK Government continues its review into the Gambling Act 2005 and as numerous MPs, campaigners, and more call for changes to the regulation of gambling both online and at brick-and-mortar venues.

This year has already seen numerous changes imposed on operators throughout the industry. Over the last few months, the UK Gambling Commission implemented a ban on credit cards and made changes to the way VIP schemes are handled. Meanwhile, the Betting and Gaming Council made changes to the design and play of video slots, requiring certain features to be removed in the UK and more.

Meanwhile, charity GambleAware has expressed concern over the lack of awareness for gambling support during the UK’s COVID-19 lockdown after a study by YouGov found that around half of all UK gamblers continued to gamble normally while in lockdown, and that more than half of all respondents claimed they only did it “for something to do”.