GambleAware Calls on UK Banks to Fight Addiction With Improved Card Blocking Tools

  • UK charity commissioned a review assessing the effectiveness of bank card gambling blockers
  • Study found that 28m or 40% of personal current accounts do not have a blocking feature 
  • Only eight banks offered the tool, with three allowing account holders to easily deactivate it
  • About 500,000 bank customers have stopped gambling payments through the blocker
  • Report calls on all banks to have a blocking feature available that is not easily turned off
credit cards
GambleAware wants all UK banks to provide improved tools that enable customers to block card payments to gambling sites. [Image:]

Helping problem gamblers

GambleAware has urged banks to ensure they have effective card blocking systems in place to help protect gamblers who are out of control. This comes as part of a new review designed to assess:

the availability, uptake, and effectiveness of bank card gambling blockers in the UK.”

According to the new report commissioned by the leading UK charity, around 28 million – or 40% of – personal current accounts do not offer a card blocking feature. Only eight financial companies allow their customers to block all future payments to gambling platforms. GambleAware deems having the ability to do so as a very important way to help manage problem gambling in the UK.

The study goes on to develop a “blueprint for change” that enhances the tool’s effectiveness in combating problem gambling.

Research insights

The research for A Blueprint for Bank Card Gambling Blockers was carried out by the Personal Finance Research Centre at the University of Bristol. GambleAware tweeted out the report on July 7: 

The report names Capital One and Nationwide as two banks that do not allow card payment blocking as a regular feature. Three of the eight banks that do have the blocking tool offer users the possibility to immediately deactivate and reactivate the feature. 

tool blocks an average of two to three gambling transactions each month

According to one of these banks, the tool blocks an average of two to three gambling transactions each month when it is activated on a given account. About 500,000 customers are estimated to have used it. An online survey showed that 43% of respondents were not aware that the feature was available on their current accounts.

Report recommendations

The study calls on UK regulators to make sure that every bank has such a card blocking feature in place, and that “time-release locks” ensure there can be no removal of restrictions for at least 48 hours. The report also wants banks to raise more awareness among their customers about the blocking features they have available. 

an estimated 28 million people are missing out”

Professor Sharon Collard of the University of Bristol was involved in the research. She concluded: “An estimated 28 million people are missing out on this crucial tool to block gambling expenditure which helps protect them from harm.” GambleAware chief executive Marc Etches said of the report findings: “Keeping people safe from gambling harms requires banks to play their full part in providing consumers with effective means to block gambling transactions.”

A ban on the use of credit cards for gambling purposes was previously introduced by the UK Gambling Commission. It came into force on April 14, 2020.

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