Banks in the UK Step Up Gambling Protection Efforts

  • UK banks are stepping up their efforts to protect customers from gambling harm
  • Lloyd, RBS, and Santander are working to allow users to limit certain transactions
  • Barclays has already successfully launched a similar offer for its mobile solution

UK banks are looking into ways to assist problem gamblers by offering support and preventing financial ruin for those most susceptible to reckless gaming practices.

Three UK Banks Come to Aid Gambling Customers

The United Kingdom (UK) will see three of its flagship banks come to the assistance of problem gamblers. The financial institutions will look into ways to install payment-blocking tools which will prevent gamers from making ruining bets.

The financial institutions involved in this project are Lloyds Bank, Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and Santander Bank, which are still deliberating how to best introduce monitoring tools that would allow the banks to act quickly and shut down any payment done via debit card when it comes to industries such as gambling.

Previously, Barclays Bank has introduced something similar, allowing customers to limit the amount of money they can place at a gambling website or block such transactions altogether. The measure includes a variety of properties, including:

  • Online casino sites
  • Card rooms
  • Lottery websites
  • Bingo
  • Land-based betting shops

The introduction of these “self-exclusion” tools has not been carved in stone, meaning that the date is still open to debate. However, the banks are moving ahead with thrashing out the details. A Santander spokesperson has commented:

We are working on functionality for debit card holders to turn off a number of broad categories of spend, for example gambling.

The Royal Bank of Scotland has been one of the staunches supporters of self-exclusion, allowing clients to freeze operations carried over their mobile app or banking website and directed at gambling.

The move, the bank estimates, is designed to help people manage their money better and avoid falling into temptation. In fact, the UK government has been toying with the idea themselves.

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. – RBS

The new measures will allow customers to have more control over their financial transactions. More control over any sort of financial dealing, the bank estimates, will also lead to “peace of mind”. In addition, the RBS is planning to assist directly any customer who may need help with controlling their gambling habit.

Similarly, to casinos and NGOs, banks are also stepping their game to create a safe environment that goes beyond the technical execution of transactions. When the measures are introduced, banks may look into how much money of a customer’s total budget is going for gambling, betting and other activities related to the sector.

Barclays Mobile Bank app has already allowed customers to pick from a variety of places where they can block their transactions, including gambling venues, but also food places, such as restaurants, takeaways, pubs, supermarkets and more.

Aran Malik

“Magic Malik”—as we like to call him—is not only a tech whiz but a wizard when it comes to getting obscure news hot off the press so we know exactly what’s happening and can explore and report it back to our growing and loyal readerbase.

One in Five People to Stop Betting If TV Ads Ban Is Approved

Limiting the exposure of people to gambling advertisement may actually lead to a downturn in the number of individuals who actually venture to place a wager, a new poll claims.

No Advertisement Would Mean Fewer Gamblers Study Finds

While the debate surrounding TV and online advertisement rages on, a new poll has emerged to support the “against-campaign” to certain extent. The numbers are much equally spread, though. According to the research, if there were a ban of gambling products during sporting events, fewer people would be tempted to place a wager.

The study was issued on December 6 and carried out by Harris Interactive, an intelligence firm. The report hinted at a newly-agreed deal between UK betting operators and broadcasters, asking companies to phase out their ads voluntarily during all live sporting events.

The findings of the research indicated that 81% agreed with the ban, although these numbers fell down to 66% when the people answering the questions identified themselves as gamblers.

According to the poll, 23% of people said that they would consider staking less money on the outcome of sporting events with another 18% saying that they would consider stopping altogether.

Understandably, gambling companies would bear the brunt of such a measure with revenue more than likely to start dipping significantly. This comes at a time when the entire sector has been buffeted by a number of regulations – from shrinking fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs) to an increase in the gambling tax, and more.

However, as Mims Davies, the new Sports Minister pointed out, the government was tasked with bringing down gambling harm, not guarantee profits for the bookmakers.

Banning en Masse

Estimated 54% believed that shirt sponsorship should be prohibited and another 53% also said that advertisement around the field should be also stripped out and removed. Of course, this will bite into the revenue streams of sporting bodies as well, which makes the measure more difficult to clear.

The perception of gambling addiction was also interesting. According to the people interviewed, they thought that the statistics indicated an increase in the number of problem gamers. However, this is not entirely true. The number of active gamers in the United Kingdom has fallen, although the level of problem gamers has kept relatively intact.

Now, more adolescent individuals are also exposed to gambling advertisement, with the number raising to 450,000 of children who are not of the legal age to gamble yet having placed a bet a week prior to a survey-interview designed to gauge the spread of underage gambling.

Pushing with more drastic measures to uproot the threat of problem gambling inherent to advertisement, if such is indeed established, would require a united public front. However, as the numbers indicate, there is still division on whether more restrictive measures should be introduced.

The industry needs to do more to demonstrate to the public they care about the lives of their customers.

Harris’ report indicated that while the public would be welcoming the eradication of problem gambling, to the majority of people, the issue remains an ever-present ailment that cannot be simply chucked away.

To change public perception of the industry and bring down the number of problem gamblers, the industry would need to make sacrifices to prove its good intentions.

Sophia Rojas

Growing up around law firms, Sophia keeps our team of reporters atop any legislative developments to follow up with a welcomed dose of positive news as our house trivia nut!

William Hill to Add Markets with Mr. Green Acquisition

William Hill is diversifying its assets and reducing its dependency on its main market. The company’s acquisition of MRG is another step in that direction, with William Hill making sure to re-focus its efforts out of one of its main bastions – the United Kingdom.

William Hills’ MRG Means Readjustment

On December 4, William Hill announced that it was seeking to acquire MRG, a casino brand formerly known as Mr. Green. MRG is valued at $307 million and offers new markets, which would help the company seek alternative sources of revenue beyond the United Kingdom, where Will Hill has become a house name.

With the announcement, William Hill also acknowledged that the bulk of the £1.7 billion in annual revenue still came from the United Kingdom where legal & regulatory tensions have been mounting. Diversifying would help the company dive into developing and established new markets. The company signaled its intentions towads MRG as early as November, when William Hill first announced its intentions to acquire a nearly 5-percent stake in Mr. Green.

MRG, in particular, presently operates in a number of markets, including Denmark, Italy, Latvia, Ireland, Malta, and of course – Great Britain, and further expansion is on the cards. With Sweden recently legalizing its own online casino market, MRG hopes to obtain a license and start offering its products to Swedish customers on January 1, 2019.

MRG’s online-only business will increase the William Hill Group’s share of revenue and profits from online as well as from outside the UK, and reduce William Hill’s exposure to the UK market – Official William Hill statement

Stipulating about the benefits of the acquisition, William Hill outlined a scenario whereby the company had already acquired MRG, which would have driven the first six months results by 5 percent across the board. Growth outside the United Kingdom would have jumped by 7 percent.

William Hill will need to go through a number of legal procedures before it can acquire MRG, with the company expecting the deal to push through between December 10 and January 17, 2019.

If watchdogs fail to review the proposal, then a grace period will be granted so that the acquisition may continue according to plan. Settlement is expected to begin on January 25, 2019. William Hill will seek to acquire at least 90 percent of MRG shares, indicating a full-acquisition.

After the process has been completed, the company will delist MRG from the Nasdaq Stockholm, giving William Hill enough time to bring all internal operations in line and reposition its assets and portfolio.

William Hill is presently facing a number of problems at home, although none too serious as of the moment. The bookmaker was recently reported not to pay out the correct odds to punters, short-handing them instead.

With the regulatory headwinds intensifying, many bookmakers and iGaming companies are looking for ways to minimize the impact of the looming Brexit and the jump in remote gambling tax.

In 2019, companies will be subject to some of the most demanding tax & regulatory norms in the past decade, which will require smart business action.

Carmen Thompson

Carmen is our residential reporter always on the move and hunting down the latest scoops and rumours to explore. Nothing gets past her keen nose, especially when it comes to some serious Jelly Bean poker tournaments.