Monzo chief leads calls for UK banks to be forced to offer gambling blocks

Internet bank Monzo has led calls for all UK bank account providers to be required to offer blocks on gambling transactions.


In a letter to Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston amid the ongoing Gambling Act review, Monzo chief executive TS Anil and representatives from academia and gambling charities also called for gambling firms to be ordered to disclose their bank account details on a central registry to empower banks and other providers to extend their gambling block to bank transfers made to gambling companies as well as card payments.

The group also said government should work with video game companies to see if it is possible to identify and block payments made for loot boxes: in-game features that have caused concern due to qualities similar to gambling.

“Ultimately, the Gambling Act review offers a unique opportunity to create a world-leading self-exclusion framework in the UK to reduce gambling harms, and help consumers gain control of their finances,” the group wrote.

“The rise in online gambling, and new ways to pay, requires a robust response from the Government. These small changes, in combination with other, existing self-exclusion tools, would help the UK to create world leading harm-reduction standards.”

As well as Monzo’s Anil, the letter was co-authored by Prof Sharon Collard, the chief executive research director of the University of Bristol’s Personal Finance Research Centre, and executives from NHS Northern Gambling Service, National Problem Gambling Clinic, Gamban and Gamfam.

The letter cites research from the University of Bristol which recommends a ‘self-exclusion triangle’ consisting of three key tools, including card-based gambling blocks.

According to the letter, at least eight major banks already offer some form of gambling block service but some of the tools available apply only to certain types of account or card. A GambleAware report last year found that about 40% of current account customers in the UK still do not have the option to use a gambling block.

Monzo says it has 275,000 users with active gambling blocks, with fewer than 10% of customers deactivating the block once activated.

“We believe the Government should take the opportunity afforded by the Gambling Act review to make sure every consumer in the UK can access these blocks - regardless of who they bank with,” the group wrote.

“These tools are simple to build, proven to work, and will help protect hundreds of thousands of people.”

In December, UK Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden announced a wide-ranging review of the country’s gambling laws.

Online restrictions, marketing and the powers of the Gambling Commission will be looked at as part of a call for evidence, to examine in detail how gambling has changed in the 15 years since the Gambling Act 2005.

Protections for online gamblers like stake and spend limits, advertising and promotional offers and whether extra protections for young adults are needed will all be explored.

Dowden said: “Whilst millions gamble responsibly, the Gambling Act is an analogue law in a digital age. From an era of having a flutter in a high street bookmaker, casino, racecourse or seaside pier, the industry has evolved at breakneck speed.

“This comprehensive review will ensure we are tackling problem gambling in all its forms to protect children and vulnerable people. It will also help those who enjoy placing a bet to do so safely.”