Around 2 million people in Britain experience harm caused by gambling – like getting into debt, losing your job, falling out with family and friends, and more.
Gambling blocks are a powerful way to get your gambling under control
They let you stop yourself from making debit card payments to any gambling provider in the UK.
According to research by the University of Bristol, 50% of people who turned on a gambling block had spent less or no money since.
We launched our gambling block back in 2018. And today, over 275,000 people are using it.
Once it's on, more than 90% of people keep it on. Which means we block up to 585,000 gambling transactions a month – that’s one or two attempted gambling transactions for every person who uses it.
But 40% of UK current accounts don’t let you block gambling
Gambling blocks are extremely effective. But sadly, they're not yet available to everyone.
So we're calling on the government to make sure everyone can access a gambling block.
We've joined forces with researchers, charities and other organisations to send a letter to the government.
If you think everyone should be able to access a gambling block – sign the open letter and show your support
Thank you 💙
Dear Parliamentary Under Secretary of State,
In light of the ongoing Gambling Act review, we’re writing to ask you to consider the crucial role financial services can play in harm reduction, and protecting those affected.
Online gambling has grown rapidly in the UK, with 1 in 5 British people now gambling online regularly. This rise in new ways to gamble, and new ways to pay for gambling, pose a significant challenge to existing harm reduction tools. The Gambling Act review offers a fantastic opportunity to build a standardised, comprehensive framework of self exclusion tools to help the estimated 2 million people in the UK experiencing harm.
As such, we’re calling on the Government to consider three key changes, as part of their review:
Introduce a new requirement for account providers in the UK to make sure every consumer can access a friction driven, card based gambling block - regardless of who they bank with. These blocks are opt-in features that customers control, are simple to build, proven to work, and will help protect hundreds of thousands of people.
Mandate gambling firms to disclose their bank account details on a central registry to empower banks and other providers to extend their gambling block to bank transfers made to gambling companies as well as card payments.
Work with gaming firms to find a way to differentiate and identify loot box transactions from typical gaming purchases, so consumers can choose to block these transactions as part of existing gambling blocks.
In a recent report from the University of Bristol, researchers recommended a ‘self exclusion triangle’ of three key tools for those who want to control their gambling. These tools help prevent any interaction with gambling firms, whether that be preventing online access to gambling sites, payments to them, or physical access to casinos and bookmakers.
One key element of this ‘self exclusion triangle’ is card based gambling blocks. These blocks allow an individual to opt-in and prevent themselves from making a debit card payment to any UK based gambling provider. These card blockers are proven to help users control their gambling. Over half of consumers had spent less or no money on gambling since activating their blocks. A recent study highlighted the scale of these interventions - with one firm blocking up to half a million attempted gambling transactions per month for their users with the tool activated. Firms like Monzo, for example, report over 275,000 users with active gambling blocks - with fewer than 10% of customers deactivating the block once activated.
The financial services industry has seen the impact of this intervention, with the first friction driven card based gambling block launched back in 2018. But despite support from prominent gambling harm reduction practitioners, researchers and charities, just over half of UK current accounts support this feature. 3 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. These tools are simple to build, proven to work, and will help protect hundreds of thousands of people.
The Government will also need to take steps to future proof these tools, and address new developments in the online gambling market to make sure such comprehensive payment blockers and harm reduction measures work today, next year, and in the decades to come. In particular, many gambling firms are now offering non-card based deposit methods (such as account to account payments). However, this new development means banks and other providers can’t access the data needed to prevent and block payments being made directly from users' bank accounts to gambling firms.
We’re calling for the Government to mandate the publication of gambling firms’ bank account details in a central registry, to open up this data to financial service firms. By opening up this data, the Government would take the first step towards helping firms build truly comprehensive gambling payment blockers, keep pace with developments in the gambling market, and keep protecting every UK consumer who chooses to use them.
Loot boxes in gaming are also an area of growing concern. The House of Lords recently called for these products to be classified as ‘games of chance’ due to the structural and psychological similarities. Regardless of their classification, consumers and healthcare professionals alike have raised their concerns surrounding their potentially addictive qualities and the role traditional self exclusion tools - such as card blockers could play in preventing harm. However, right now, financial services providers can’t differentiate between lootbox transactions, and other types of gaming purchases. As such, we’d urge the Government to work with gaming firms to find a way to differentiate and identify loot box transactions from typical gaming purchases. This will empower providers to identify, and block these transactions for those who want to control their access to these features, as well as traditional gambling products.
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.
We hope you will consider our proposals.
TS Anil, CEO, Monzo
Professor Sharon Collard, Research Director, University of Bristol Personal Finance Research Centre
Chris Fitch, Research Fellow, University of Bristol Personal Finance Research Centre
Jamie Evans, Senior Research Associate, University of Bristol Personal Finance Research Centre
Matt Zarb-Cousin, Director of External Affairs and Co-Founder, Gamban
Steve Watts, Founder and CEO, GamFam
Frankie Graham, Founder and CEO, Betknowmore
Prof Henrietta Bowden-Jones OBE, Founder and Director, National Problem Gambling Clinic
Dr Matthew Gaskell, Clinical Lead, The NHS Northern Gambling Service
Sign the open letter ✍️
Show your support and help everyone who needs one access a gambling block 💙
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