The latest reports claim that lockdown has caused an increase in gambling throughout the UK which triggered alarm for many. Primarily, HSBC UK and first direct have announced an increased cooling-off period to their gambling block feature. The new rule states it is now increased from 24 hours to 72 hours.
The self-restriction tool will automatically decline any gambling transactions for three days. The tool, normally, prevents customers from being able to make gambling payments on their accounts after it is switched on, to help people control their urge to gamble.
Head of Financial Inclusion and Vulnerability at HSBC UK, Maxine Pritchard, said: “This is a challenging time for many of our customers, with some not working and perhaps facing financial difficulty. By increasing the restriction to 72 hours, this will help give our customers time to pause when they are tempted to return to gambling”.
Pritchard continued to say that:
“We are always looking for new ways to support our customers and make it easier for them to manage their finances. Customer feedback on our gambling control showed us there was more we could do to help and we’ve worked closely with them and with GamCare to design the solution.”
The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) recently published data highlights that lockdown measures have had a significant impact on gambling behaviour in the UK. Apparently, there’s been a month-on-month increase recorded, of even 29% in gross gambling yield (GGY), and a 7% increase in the active accounts.
CEO of GamCare, Anna Hemmings, said: “The ability to block gambling transactions through your bank card or app is an important tool for those struggling with their gambling and is ideally used together with other practical tools such as self-exclusion, blocking software, and specialist support around the issue – as we have recently emphasised through our ‘TalkBanStop’ partnership and campaign”.
She also explained that:
“The University of Bristol Personal Finance Research Centre has also highlighted that ‘positive friction’ such as a cooling off period is important for the success of blocks, as this prevents them being turned off in the event of urges to gamble. GamCare is pleased to see HSBC UK and first direct take this positive step to support their customers.”
HSBC UK and first direct both have their own specialist support teams on hand to help vulnerable customers get proper help. These customers don’t only include those with a gambling problem but also customers who may be at risk of financial harm from gambling, referring them to a trusted external organisation where needed.
As is explained, “Available to HSBC UK and first direct customers with an active debit card, the option can be switched on via the ‘Manage Cards’ section on the HSBC UK mobile app (within the ‘Cards’ section of the mobile app), as well as via telephone banking or by going into a branch – giving customers added control over their spending”.