Banking blocking tools are impactful, but not the solution

Banking blocking tools are impactful, but not the solution

Banking blocking tools are impactful, but not the solution
Research into problem gambling and gambling-related harm continues in the United Kingdom and beyond, with the newest piece of evidence probing the root causes and best ways to address them, and help at-risk groups coming from the Queen Mary University of London. The institution’s Multi-disciplinary Research Hub on Prevention of Gambling Harms, led by Professor Julia Hörnle and Dr Janelle Jones, has conducted new research focusing specifically on the role of blocking tools that banks have at their disposal to ensure that they safeguard their customers. According to the researchers, financial institutions, such as banks, are in a unique position to help safeguard against the dangers of problem gambling by offering timely solutions through their blocking tools and ensuring that they are contributing to an overall reduction in gambling-related harms this way. The researchers point out that a “significant minority” of people are experiencing serious issues with gambling that could lead to severe financial ramifications, such as spiralling debt, but they are also associated with physical and mental health manifestations, such as increased thoughts of suicidality, criminal behavior, depression, and anxiety. The research similarly wants to highlight the fact that problem gambling can have “devastating personal consequences,” argues the study’s co-author, Dr Jones, who is a Senior Lecturer in Social Psychology, in the School of Biological and Behavioral Sciences, but banks do have a role to play. “Banks, with their unique position and access to transactional and behavioral data, can effectively identify and assist customers in recognizing and addressing their gambling-related issues early,” the co-author adds on an optimistic note. Banks though need not limit themselves to just blocking tools, the research adds, highlighting some of the other pro-active measures financial institutions have undertaken that have contributed to tackling the rates of problem gambling in the country. Apart from blocking tools, many banks have been conducting spend analysis and engaging in active communication. The research also argues that signposting vulnerable customers to specialized support networks such as Gamcare is even more important to the overall recovery. Although all of this is good news, the study also underlies some of the issues that blocking tools have brought on. For the most part, there is a lack of standardization which makes their implementation rather disparate, with some financial institutions doing better than others, and others still not completely sure how to go about those tools. For the most part, it’s agreed by Professor Hörnle and her colleague that blocking tools work, but they are not a complete solution. To make sure that they are more impactful, the Financial Conduct Authority would do well to issue standardized guidance and rules for how blocking apps should be handled by financial institutions, which could further lead to a reduction of the levels of gambling harm in the United Kingdom. Image credit:

20 FEB 2024

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