Digital bank Monzo has written to the UK Government, urging it to force all banks to provide gambling transaction blocks to customers.
The letter, addressed to Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston who is leading the Government’s review of the Gambling Act 2005, has been signed by Monzo Chief Executive TS Anil as well as several representatives from gambling charities and academia.
The letter urges the UK Government to force all major banks and account providers to offer tools that prevent customers from making any gambling transactions on debit cards, removing all obstacles for anyone wanting to stop betting and helping to clamp down on gambling addiction.
Monzo’s letter has also proposed that all gambling operators should provide their bank account details which would be stored on a central registry, helping banks block all payments to operator accounts and preventing customers from using alternative payment methods.
Monzo and the group behind the letter also said that the Government should work with video game developers and publishers to implement payment blocks for loot boxes, microtransactions in some video games which have been widely compared to gambling.
The letter reads: “Ultimately, the Gambling Act review offers a unique opportunity to create a world-leading self-exclusion framework in the UK to reduce gambling harms, and help consumers gain control of their finances.
“The rise in online gambling, and new ways to pay, requires a robust response from the Government. These small changes, in combination with other, existing self-exclusion tools, would help the UK to create world-leading harm-reduction standards.”
As we’ve previously reported, around eight major banks in the UK, including Monzo, offer gambling block services. However, the blockers have been criticised for only blocking certain transactions or for freely allowing customers to switch them off.
In the letter, Monzo revealed that 275,000 of its customers have activated gambling blocks and that less than 10% of customers deactivate the blocking service after first activating it.
In a statement to The Guardian, Monzo’s TS Anil said: “We believe the Government should take the opportunity afforded by the Gambling Act review to make sure every consumer in the UK can access these blocks, regardless of who they bank with.”
Responding to the letter, a spokesperson for the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) said: “We support all forms of blocking capabilities and are encouraged by the continued uptake by banks of these functions.”
Also this week, gambling charity GambleAware has launched its first National Gambling Treatment Service campaign which will run through to the end of March. The campaign is the first of its kind to target women aged between 18 and 54 and will promote the treatment and support available for gambling-related harm.
GambleAware hopes to drive awareness of gambling addiction and push women suffering from gambling-related harm to the National Gambling Treatment Service. The campaign will feature videos and posters drawing on the insight that people with gambling problems feel disconnected from family and friends, and that treatment will help those with issues overcome their problems.
Zoe Osmond, the Communications and Engagement Director at GambleAware, said in a statement to CasinoBeats: “Following the success of the previous campaign, we are continuing our targeted approach to make sure women are not overlooked in the drive to raise awareness of gambling treatment and support.
“These findings highlight an increase in women suffering from gambling harm, and we hope this campaign will help to signpost those experiencing harms to the help that is available.”
The launch of the campaign comes after a report from YouGov found that 10% of all women across the UK experience “some level of gambling harm”. Previous reports have found that women are more likely to experience harm from loved ones.
The campaign has also come after self-exclusion tool provider Gamstop announced that more than 55,000 women have self-excluded using the service. In its report, Gamstop highlighted that the number of women suffering from gambling addiction has increased over the years.
Also this week, gambling harm consultancy group EPIC Risk Management has announced a partnership with the Counter-Strike Professional Players’ Association (CSPPA), the global association for professional Counter-Strike: Global Offensive players.
Under the partnership, EPIC Risk Management will provide the eSports association with programmes that educate and raise awareness of gambling-related harm. In addition, the two organisations will work together on various research projects regarding gambling in competitive eSports.
EPIC Risk Management Chief Executive Paul Buck told FocusGN: “We’re delighted to announce such a landmark agreement. I must applaud the leadership of the CSPPA for taking a lead in eSports around the threats of gambling harm, and we are very excited to launch a first-of-its-kind agreement between an eSports players association in this space.
“At EPIC, we have a proven track record of working with athletes to make them aware of the potentially destructive financial implications and health issues that out-of-control gambling can cause.”
He added: “The work we do covers harmful products and practices and enables athletes to make well-informed decisions, reducing distraction, in addition to educating them on betting integrity issues and their potential problems that out-of-control gambling can cause.”
Mads Øland, the Chief Executive of CSPPA, added: The CSPPA understands that elite athletes, including CSPPA members, are potentially more vulnerable to gambling addiction and betting integrity issues.
“The CSPPA is committed to protecting its members from the potential harms of gambling addiction, which not only harms the individual both financially and with regards to mental health but also exposes and makes players vulnerable to further abuse relating to betting integrity and match-fixing.”