NatWest To Provide Gambling Addiction Support In High-Street Branches
NatWest has announced that it will now be offering support to gambling addicts at its high-street branches.
The bank made the revelation this week, revealing that it had teamed up with gambling charity GamCare to offer counselling services in 13 branches of the bank around the UK, The Guardian reports. Customers who are and are not part of the bank can make appointments to speak with experts from the gambling charity and provide support to those in need.
According to NatWest, the service will begin in London, the Midlands, the East of England and the South-East, and if successful could roll out to 700 branches. The bank also stated that it will use its floorspace in larger branches to offer discreet advice in a safe environment.
NatWest’s decision to offer the service comes after fellow banks Monzo and Barclays allowed customers to block gambling transactions to their bank account or cards through their mobile apps. The service will expand GamCare’s reach to vulnerable people, increasing the number of their counselling locations to over 10 including Wood Green, Ilford, Stratford, Margate, Camden, Haywards Heath, Twickenham, Lewisham, and Ealing.
The move also comes after the UK Gambling Commission launched a consultation on the use of credit cards at online casinos. According to the UK Gambling Commission, there is an estimated number of 340,000 problem gamblers in the United Kingdom, equivalent to around 0.7% of the population in the nation. It’s also estimated that a further 550,000 people suffer harm as a result of gambling.
What They Say
NatWest’s Head of Lending Phill Sheehy said: “Some customers might be uncomfortable going to an addiction centre. This is an accessible and neutral environment. We want to look at what we can do to help people who may be struggling with a gambling addiction, which can have a significant effect financially.”
Nicky Morgan, the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture Media and Sport, added: “The government has been clear to all businesses that have connections to gambling, including bookmakers, major high-street banks and social media platforms, that they must be socially responsible and use the power of technology and data to help people manage their spending and protect them from gambling-related harm.”
She added: “I will closely monitor NatWest’s progress and I urge others in the banking sector to follow suit for the good of their customers.”
Mike Kenward, the Development Director of GamCare, revealed that the charity will also train NatWest staff members to provide support to customers looking to stop betting. He said: “The relationship between problem gambling and financial problems is well established, although not enough is known about it.”
“Banks are in a phenomenal position to support people affected by problem gambling. What people need when they’re trying to make a big change in their life is the tools to help them when their motivation is at its lowest. It gives an additional layer of protection.”