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GamCare: Banks are the frontline to prevent gambling-related financial harms

GamCare has issued new guidance to British banks on how to spot and prevent gambling-related financial harms impacting their clients’ businesses.

The problem-gambling treatment support charity has published its “Business banking, debt and gambling harm” report, produced from insights gained from workshops and research on gambling-related financial harms.

The report emphasizes the importance of raising awareness and training staff within the banking sector. Banks should utilise their vast data resources to better understand the scale of gambling harm across business accounts and analyse how to foresee and prevent such financial issues.

Another key recommendation is the blocking of gambling transactions on business accounts. The report highlights that while only a small number of business bank account providers, such as Monzo and Tide, currently block gambling transactions by default, and some others, like Santander and NatWest, offer an opt-in gambling block at the customer’s request, more firms need to adopt this practice.

Banks should assess the risks of allowing gambling transactions on business accounts and consider standard blocking, similar to the measures taken for credit cards and under-18 accounts.

Furthermore, the report advocates for enhanced transaction monitoring to identify gambling harm. Some retail banks in the UK have begun to monitor data to detect unaffordable gambling and proactively contact customers to offer help and support, but this practice is not yet common in business banking.

Banks that allow gambling transactions on business accounts should use transactional data to spot harmful gambling patterns, such as repetitive and escalating gambling spend or gambling across multiple operators, and flag these accounts for further intervention.

Data from PayPlan and the Business Debtline further supports the report’s findings, showing that business owners and self-employed individuals affected by gambling often face heightened levels of debt and financial strain.

Dawn Jennings, Information Officer at the Business Debtline, provided a poignant summary of the impact of gambling on businesses: “For some of our clients, gambling had put their business under extra financial strain, making it more difficult for them to trade. For others, it has simply led to the closure of their business.”

GamCare calls on the business banking sector to take proactive steps in raising awareness, monitoring transactions, and intervening to support customers experiencing gambling-related financial harm.

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