GamCare calls for cooperation with banks to combat loopholes in the gambling block

GamCare has urged major banks to work together to close gambling blocking loopholes that allow potentially at-risk consumers to continue gambling.

The charity hosted an industry seminar that brought together 45 members of the financial services industry, including banks and payment processors, as well as people with a lifetime of gambling-related harm.

In recent years, many UK banks have introduced gambling transaction blockers that prevent consumers from playing online games.

These game blocks work with card-based deposit transactions that have a merchant category code that matches gambling operators and was originally supported by Monzo challenger bank.

Banks can then recognize this merchant code and block any transaction.

However, with the increase in non-card transactions offered by gambling operators, including e-wallets and open banking solutions, there are new ways for customers to exploit loopholes in the technology.

E-wallets and open banking solutions do not transfer merchant category codes to banks, unlike card transactions, leaving gambling blocking software redundant in certain situations.

One of the recommendations of the GamCare workshop was to create a central registry containing bank account details associated with gambling operators, which could then be made available to financial services.

Additional workshop recommendations included raising awareness of the dangers of offshore operators, developing a crash reporting system for gambling blocking software, and actively monitoring new payment methods that do not publish a merchant category code.

Raminta Diliso, GamCare Financial Damage Manager, said: “For those who are trying to stop gambling, banking blocks offer an invaluable level of protection, but people who use our services report that they managed to bypass the blocks.

“We are delighted that so many organizations have shown interest in this issue, and we would like to see a collaborative cross-industry response to make a number of additional changes to further protect people from the harms associated with gambling,” she added.

According to GAMSTOP CEO Fiona Palmer, who spoke with EGR Intel this week about TalkBanStop and other initiatives, a collaborative approach to gambling blocking and self-exclusion provides the best recipe for success.