HSBC to let customers block spending on gambling websites

 Bet365 website. Customers will be able to stop themselves

HSBC will allow customers to prevent themselves from spending money with bookmakers and online casinos, as it becomes the latest bank to introduce measures intended to help problem gamblers.

Europe’s largest bank will offer its 14.5 million UK customers the option to self-exclude from all gambling transactions, a restriction that can only be reversed after a 24-hour cooling-off period.

It said the scheme, designed in partnership with the charities GamCare and GambleAware, would create “positive friction” by giving customers time to consider their urge to gamble.

The bank said the move was a response to concerns expressed by its customers about the impact that betting is having on their finances.

More than half a million of its customers placed bets every month in 2018, spending an average of £52.50, while it receives more than 12,000 calls from customers about gambling per year.

It has trained staff to respond to these calls with the help of GamCare and will also analyse data on card spending to see who might benefit from advice.

HSBC’s move to help people who are trying to rein in their gambling is part of a growing trend in the financial sector to arm customers with technological tools to do so.

Dr Heather Wardle, an assistant professor and gambling behaviour researcher at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said: “The financial sector is a key enabler of the gambling industry – without them online gambling couldn’t exist.

“So it’s right that banks and other financial institutions take the protection of people from gambling harms seriously.”

High-street lender NatWest said last month that it would offer counselling sessions for gambling addicts inside branches as part of a groundbreaking pilot scheme that could be rolled out across the country.

Lenders such as Monzo, Barclays and Starling also allow customers to block gambling transactions on their bank accounts or credit cards, but HSBC is the largest bank to introduce such measures.

“We are committed to helping customers manage their finances and that includes introducing new tools that can help control spending,” said Maxine Pritchard, HSBC’s head of financial inclusion and vulnerability.

“With the bank receiving 12,000 calls a year relating to gambling, it’s clear we should do more to support these customers.

An influential cross-party group of MPs recently called for much stricter regulation of online gambling, including a ban on betting with credit cards.

Online payments firm PayPal promised to tighten up its controls earlier this year after the Guardian revealed that it was letting problem gamblers spend up to £150,000 a day on credit.

 

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2019/nov/13/hsbc-to-let-customers-block-spending-on-gambling-websites