HSBC UK TO INTRODUCE ATM-STYLE SPENDING LIMITS FOR GAMBLING
UK gamblers holdings banks accounts with HSBC could soon find themselves subject to daily spending limits similar to those imposed on withdrawals from automated teller machines.
On Monday, the Twitter account of HSBC UK responded to a challenge posed by gambling addict Tony Franklin, whose £1m lifetime gambling losses led him to form the Gambling Hurts advocacy group.
On Monday, Franklin tweeted at a number of large UK financial institutions, including Barclays, Lloyds Bank, Metro Bank, NatWest and HSBC, asking “who will be first to implement default daily spend limit for gambling transactions similar to ATM limits?”
Not long thereafter, Franklin received a reply from the HSBC UK account, which said “speculative transaction restrictions is on our roadmap already, we’re planning to release this algorithm during upcoming November/December builds.” (HSBC’s pejorative view of gambling isn’t new, having concluded that gambling wouldn’t be “an area of focus” five years ago.)
Online gambling spending and deposit limits were among the primary recommendations of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Gambling Related Harm’s interim report that was released on Monday.
The APPG suggested a ‘single sign-on’ mechanism that would allow gamblers to set mandatory deposit limits that would apply across all UK-licensed online gambling sites. The report further suggested that an individual’s limits should be “informed by affordability checks using services such as [consumer credit reporting company] Experian.”
Several UK financial institutions, including Barclays, Monzo and Starling, have begun introducing tools to allow their mobile app customers to block all gambling transactions. In March, Cashplus allowed its 1.5m UK customers to block credit card gambling transactions as well as offering restrictions on ATM withdrawals within its app for customers who truly can’t say ‘when’.
This month, NatWest announced it would allow its mobile app users to block gambling transactions, while also announcing the trial of a program that will offer counselling sessions for problem gamblers at its retail branches. The trial, which is being conducted with the help of the GamCare charity, will start in 13 NatWest branches ahead of a potential nationwide rollout.
The sessions are available to anyone, regardless of whether or not they hold a NatWest account. NatWest’s head of lending, Phil Sheehy, told the Guardian that the branches were a more “accessible and neutral environment” than a dedicated addiction facility, which may encourage more sufferers to come forward.