UK gambling charity has called for more flexibility over deposit limits following the release of a study by the Behavioural Insights Team (BIT).
BIT’s study, which was commissioned by GambleAware, found that providing online gamblers with the ability to set their own spending limits is more effective than providing them with set options.
The study analysed how players more than 1,700 Bet365 utilised different deposit limit settings. As part of the study, the players were given three different deposit limit options, the first of which was available through Bet365’s standard page where users could select via a dropdown list one of several pre-defined deposit limit options including £5, £1,000, £5,000 or £10,000. Users directed to this page were also given the option to continue playing without deposit limits.
Other users were given the option of using one of two new methods; a dropdown menu featuring low-value deposit options and a maximum limit of £250 with a blank text box to allow users to enter a higher limit if they wish or an option with no displayed deposit limits, only a text box for customers to enter their preferred deposit limit.
According to BIT’s research, the average daily deposit limit among players almost halved when users weren’t offered the traditional high deposit limit options. Researchers found that deposit limits were 46% lower with users who were presented with the single text box and 45% lower among users who were presented with the lower deposit suggestions and dropbox.
BIT has now recommended that deposit limit tools available at gambling websites shouldn’t hold any values. Instead, they should provide customers with a blank text box with no minimum or maximum amounts, allowing users to select their own limits.
The report has also urged the UK Gambling Commission to introduce the blank text box deposit limit as a requirement under its License Conditions and Codes of Practice (LCCP), saying: “This approach would not only address recent calls on the Commission to utilise reputational incentives, but also give the industry scope to demonstrate proactive progress in lieu of active regulation.”
Rosanna Barry, the Principal Advisor of the Consumer Markets and Business Team at BIT, said in a statement: “This report is the culmination of a huge amount of detailed work by the team at BIT.
“It shows how seemingly superficial changes to the way that gambling sites offer deposit tools, if implemented across the industry and for all customers, will deliver large benefits to individuals who gamble and society as a whole, without constraining customer choice.”
Tim Miller, the Executive Director of Research and Policy at the UK Gambling Commission, added: “This is an important study that uses experiences from real consumers to find what actually works to reduce the harms that can come from gambling.
“Importantly, it provides practical options for how gambling operators can strengthen the tools they provide to protect consumers from harm. These are also issues we are seeking responses on through our remote customer interaction consultation and call for evidence, which closes next month.”
The publishing of GambleAware and BIT’s study comes as HSBC UK and First Direct announce an increased cooling-off period for their gambling block feature from 24 hours to 72 hours.
The feature allows customers to block all gambling transactions made with their accounts. With the increased cooling-off period, HSBC now automatically declines any gambling transactions for a minimum of three days when enabled. Users will have to wait that three-day period before being allowed to disable the feature.
Maxine Pritchard, the Head of Financial Inclusion and Vulnerability at HSBC UK, told Gambling Insider: “This is a challenging time for many of us customers, with some not working and perhaps facing financial difficulty. By increasing the restriction to 72 hours, this will help give our customers time to pause when they are tempted to return to gambling.
“We are always looking for new ways to support our customers and make it easier for them to manage their finances. Customer feedback on our gambling control showed us there was more we could to help, and we’ve worked closely with them and with GamCare to design the solution.”
Anna Hemmings, the CEO at GamCare, said of the announcement: “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 – as we have recently emphasised through our ‘TalkBanStop’ partnership and campaign.”
HSBC’s gambling block tool is available to all customers and can be activated through the HSBC mobile app, by going into a branch or over the phone. HSBC isn’t the only bank in the UK, allowing users to block gambling transactions.
Barclays Bank launched its gambling blocker in December 2018, joining other banks such as the Bank Of Scotland, NatWest, Lloyds Bank, Halifax, and online bank Monzo which last year reported that around 5% of its customers had activated the blocker, equating to around 223,993 people.
Despite the popularity of bank gambling blockers, a report released by charity GambleAware last July found that around 40% of all customers with current accounts in the UK have not been given a gambling payment blocker and that four major UK banks – the Nationwide Building Society, the First Trust Bank, Dankse Bank, and the Bank Of Ireland – did not offer gambling blockers at the time.
What’s more, GambleAware also reported that users with gambling blocks enabled were finding workarounds by using e-Wallets such as Skrill, Neteller, and PayPal. The research GambleAware to urge all financial groups to improve the way their blockers work.