UK Gambling Commission Wants Financial Sector to Help Tackle Gambling Harm

  • UKGC chief executive Neil McArthur delivered a virtual keynote speech to finance professionals
  • He believes a multi-sector approach is necessary for a lasting reduction in gambling harm
  • Access to the financial transactions of gambling customers could be vital in reducing harm
London skyline
The UK Gambling Commission’s chief executive Neil McArthur addressed the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute, calling on the financial sector to help reduce gambling harm. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

A call to arms

The UK Gambling Commission’s (UKGC) chief executive called upon the financial industry to get involved in a multi-sector partnership to help fight gambling harm. 

UKGC chief Neil McArthur made his comments during a virtual keynote speech to the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute’s financial service professionals conference when he made the call to arms. The commission tweeted out a link to the speech in its entirety on Tuesday:

McArthur believes that the finance sector can play a vital role in developing a safer gambling environment. He said that in order to achieve a lasting reduction in gambling harm, a multi-sector approach is necessary.

diverse range of opinions, specialists, and backgrounds is essential

Currently, there are 340,000 problem gamblers in Great Britain. McArthur stated that no one group has all of the answers on how to reduce these numbers and that a diverse range of opinions, specialists, and backgrounds is essential. 

A collaborative effort

Numerous banks in the UK are now offering gambling block features to customers to help them control their gambling expenditures. Some of the leading banks to have such software in place include HSBC, Bank of Scotland, Lloyds Bank, Halifax, and Barclays. A ban on the use of credit cards for gambling transactions also took effect earlier this year.

One of the areas in which the UKGC believes that the finance sector can really help is with the regulator’s “Single Customer View” project. The goal of this initiative is to get a more holistic look at a customer’s gambling habits. 

opportunities to protect people are being missed”

Financial services providers could have a big role to play in developing this single customer view as they have access to gamblers’ financial transactions. Speaking about the importance of such an approach, McArthur said: “The evidence we have from Experts by Experience suggests that opportunities to protect people are being missed because their financial transactions show spending with gambling operators that is not questioned.”

A two-year program

The virtual conference is a part of a two-year Money and Mental Health program titled “Engaging financial services firms in work to reduce gambling harms.” Its aim is to get the financial sector more engaged with fighting problem gambling. 

The funding for the program comes from the proceeds of a penalty package in a UKGC enforcement case. This program is a part of the ongoing work of the National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms, which the UKGC launched in 2019.

What the future holds

In concluding his speech, McArthur outlined the next steps the UKGC will be taking to help rein in problem gambling. The regulator awaits further details of how the government will conduct a review of the Gambling Act. It will be ready to support the review process by providing data, expertise, and experience. 

The UKGC will also soon launch a consultation on the use of affordability checks by gambling operators to keep users safe, as well as look at customer interaction. In the next few weeks, stricter rules will come into effect regarding VIP gamblers

Finally, the commission is actively working with the Financial Conduct Authority to build on work relating to financial vulnerability.