UK-based gambling charity GambleAware has urged banks in the country to do more to protect problem gamblers from making betting and casino-related transactions. 

These pleas were made after research conducted by the University of Bristol revealed that 40% of current accounts in the UK did not have access to such features. 

The research, carried out by the institution’s Personal Finance Centre, also found that just eight British banks offered any kind of player protection tools. 

Players in the UK have already been subjected to stricter gambling payment regulations this year, with a ban on making transactions for this activity via credit card coming into force on 14th April.

Some transaction-blocking features need to be strengthened, according to the University of Bristol

The research, which was conducted on behalf of GambleAware, revealed that customers with three of the eight banks offering gambling transaction controls can instantly switch these off if they choose to. In addition to this, two – Capital One and Nationwide – block card transactions to gambling companies on a case-by-case basis, but not as a standard feature. 

The 40% of current accounts without gambling transaction blockers available translates to roughly 28 million people, as reported by The Guardian

Professor Sharon Collard, who works at the University of Bristol, had the following to say about these findings. 

“Our research has found bank card gambling blockers are not available on roughly 40% of personal current accounts. This means an estimated 28 million people are missing out on this crucial tool to block gambling expenditure which helps protect them from harm. 

“We are calling on the Financial Conduct Authority to urgently recommend that gambling blocks are standard on all debit and credit cards.”

GambleAware Chief Executive Marc Etches also discussed the research’s revelations, saying that: 

“Keeping people safe from gambling harms requires banks to play their full part in providing consumers with effective means to block gambling transactions.”

UK banks’ gambling transaction blockers are, to an extent, working 

Data gathered from the banks that offer player protection features showed that across all eight, 500,000 individuals have utilised the tools now at their disposal. At one bank, an average of 2-3 gambling transactions per user, per month – which altogether was roughly between 390,000 and 585,000 – were blocked. 

Despite the number of transactions that have successfully been stopped, Collard also called for a cool-down period when removing blockers. 

She said: “The people affected by gambling harms who took part in the review stated that the more positive friction that can be built into a bank blocker, the more effective it can be.

“It is vital, therefore, that the blockers cannot just be turned on and off, as the benefits of the technology become redundant. Instead, we recommend all financial service firms require consumers to wait at least two days between requesting to turn the blocker off, and the blocker technology stopping.”