UK digital banking service Monzo has called for mandatory gambling transaction blocking options for all banks in the country. 

The company’s CEO TS Anil, plus a range of gambling charities and other academic representatives, sent a letter to the UK’s Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston requesting this. 

Various UK banks have voluntarily introduced gambling transaction blockers to their services, but a large number of customers in the country are still not protected in this way. 

“A robust response from the Government” is needed 

Anil was joined in putting the letter by executives from the NHS Northern Gambling Service, Gamban, Gamfam, and the National Gambling Clinic. 

Professor Sharon Collard, who is the Chief Executive Research Director for the Personal Finance Centre at the University of Bristol, also added her signature.

The letter was sent to the Sports Minister with the ongoing 2005 Gambling Act review in mind. In the correspondence, the following was said:

“Ultimately, the Gambling Act review offers a unique opportunity to create a world-leading self-exclusion framework in the UK to reduce gambling harms, and help consumers gain control of their finances.

“The rise in online gambling, and new ways to pay, requires a robust response from the Government. These small changes, in combination with other, existing self-exclusion tools, would help the UK to create world leading harm-reduction standards.” 

What else was included in the letter? 

According to Monzo, 275,000 of the company’s four million customers have activated online gambling blocks on their accounts. After activating these blockers, fewer than 10% reversed their decision. 

The letter also mentioned that currently, around eight major UK banks include some kind of gambling transaction blocker in their services. But these are only available for some kinds of accounts or cards, and some can be switched off easily. 

Last year, research by GambleAware revealed that 40% of UK customers with a current account had no protection from gambling transactions. 

In the letter, the group continued:

“We believe the Government should take the opportunity afforded by the Gambling Act review to make sure every consumer in the UK can access these blocks – regardless of who they bank with.

“These tools are simple to build, proven to work, and will help protect hundreds of thousands of people.” 

Besides calling for mandatory gambling transaction blockers, the executives also called for the government to work with video game companies and find out if it’s possible for loot box purchases to be blocked if users ask. 

Loot boxes have been a talking point because some have expressed worries about gambling similarities, and the potential to trigger behaviours similar to problem gambling. Some countries in Europe, such as Belgium, have already classed loot boxes as a form of gambling.