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Banks to help gamblers quit betting habit

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Banks to help gamblers quit betting habit: Phone apps will allow control over where money can be spent

Major High Street banks will launch a crackdown on problem gambling this year by allowing customers to switch off spending on betting sites.

Lloyds, Santander and Royal Bank of Scotland plan to block spending at the bookies’ on their debit cards, by changing their banking apps to give customers control over where their money can be spent.

It comes after Barclays became the first major lender to allow customers to block categories of spending.

Lloyds, Santander and RBS plan to block spending at the bookies’ on their debit cards, by changing their banking apps to give customers control over where their money can be spent 

Gambling firms are under growing pressure amid an addiction epidemic, with more than 2m people thought to be at risk of developing a problem. 

The bookies are already being hit with tough restrictions on fixed odds betting terminals, known as the ‘crack cocaine’ of the industry because they are highly addictive and let people rack up huge losses in minutes.

Gambling websites already allow users worried they gamble too much to block their payment details.

But the banks are now getting in on the act to provide another layer of protection.

Someone who blocks their card will have to at least pause for thought before a reckless spree, or physically withdraw the cash – at which point they might think again.

Barclays allows customers to block debit card spending in five categories – groceries and supermarkets; restaurants, takeaways, pubs and bars; petrol stations; gambling; and premium rate websites and phone lines such as for TV voting and pornography.

Natwest owner RBS, which has 30m customers, is looking at introducing similar spending controls this year.

It is also set to launch controls which customers can use to specifically stop cash withdrawals, online or in-store purchases by credit card.

A spokesman said: ‘We recently launched the ability for our customers to freeze their credit cards and set spending budgets using our mobile app, and are always looking at further ways to help customers manage their money.’

Santander, with 14m customers, is planning a similar set-up to Barclays, with the system expected to come into force early in 2019.

A spokesman said: ‘We are working on functionality for debit card holders to turn off a number of broad categories of spend, for example gambling.’

And Lloyds intends to let its 22m customers block gambling spending on their debit cards within months. 

It said: ‘Throughout 2019 we will be enhancing our customer communications so customers are informed and alerted to their gambling spend, as well as introducing tools to improve self-service options such as gambling restrictions.

‘New card controls give customers more control over debit card transactions for extra peace of mind.’



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