BCLC: Financial Institutions Can Support Customers with Safer Gambling

Business News

Financial-services firms are in a unique position to not only support the financial wellbeing of their customers, but also their healthy-gambling decisions. 

That was the focus of last month’s New Horizons in Responsible Gambling pre-conference session Banking on a Different Perspective: The Financial Industry’s Role in Safer Gambling, hosted by BCLC. 

Session speaker Natalie Ledward, Vulnerability Manager at Monzo Bank Ltd. in the U.K., outlined that bank’s strategy to provide digital tools and support resources to customers who request help with gambling-related financial decisions.

For example, Monzo introduced a gambling blocking tool in 2018 that allows customers to temporarily suspend gambling purchases from their Monzo bank account(s). Using unique merchant codes provided by major credit-card companies, Monzo’s blocking tool identifies when a customer attempts to make a gambling-related purchase, and prevents them from doing so. 

“Banks play a huge role in identifying people’s spending habits,” Ledward said. “They have the opportunity to be the first to find out about their customers’ gambling behaviours and can begin to offer those customers help.”

Session panelist Simon McNair, Policy Advisor at the UK-based Behavioural Insight Team, shared how banks can play a more significant role in providing perspective about how gambling behaviours factor into broader financial behaviours. 

“Banks show a great degree of pro-activity already,” said McNair. “Controlling gambling behaviour, especially more problematic behaviour, is absolutely in-part a money-management issue. Helping customers to that end will have numerous benefits – from helping people to keep their accounts in good standing, preventing people falling into debt, or to helping them to pay down debt.”

McNair explained how a tool as simple as a gambling block can support more informed gambling transactions. He further described how financial harm is a key sign of problem gambling, making it essential for banks to have strategies and tools in place to help their customers who may experience gambling issues. 

Dr. Jamie Wiebe, Director of Player Health at BCLC, explains why it was important for BCLC to host this session, the first of two pre-conference sessions leading up to New Horizons 2021, to further the dialogue around how different industries can work together to better support players. 

“Banks have an important role to play in helping gambling operators better understand the relationship between their customers’ spending and gambling behaviours, which helps the gambling industry enhance our tools in response,” said Dr. Wiebe. “As the industry looks to support the health and wellbeing of our players overall, it’s critical that we engage with other industries in these important discussions that identify new learnings that help shape our collective approach.”