Bank introduces cooling off period to help customers control gambling spending

Barclays customers who choose to switch off their spending on gambling are to be given a 72-hour cooling off period before they can restart it again.

The bank’s gambling block banking feature to help customers control their spending has so far been used more than 187,000 times since the coronavirus lockdown started.

The bank introduced the option for customers to turn off their ability to spend on gambling transactions in December 2018.

Since then, the feature has been used more than 570,000 times.

After listening to feedback from customers, Barclays said the new time delay feature will be added in the coming weeks so that if users decide to restart spending on gambling websites, apps or in venues, there will be a 72-hour wait before they can make such payments. Any attempted transactions during that period will be automatically declined.

To use the gambling block, customers need to go into the cards section of their app where they will find the feature within the merchant control section.

If gambling is turned off and then turned back on again, a pop-up will appear reminding customers they will need to wait 72 hours before they can make payments. The feature can also be accessed via telephone banking and in branch.

Customers can also use other tools to control their spending, such as setting a spending limit for a single transaction, cash withdrawal limits and temporarily freezing their card when they feel like their spending is getting out of control.

Sian McIntyre, managing director at Barclays, said: “Customer feedback on our gambling control showed us there was more we could do to help and we’ve worked closely with them to design the solution.

“Our customers have told us this 72-hour time delay gives them a real pause for thought and helps when they are tempted to return to gambling.”

Anna Hemmings, chief executive of GamCare, said: “The ability to block gambling transactions through your bank card or app is incredibly helpful to those struggling to control their gambling, and is ideally used together with other practical tools such as self-exclusion, blocking software, and specialist support and treatment around the issue.”

Katie Alpin, interim chief executive of the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute, said: “We’ve long campaigned for banks to offer customers gambling blocks with a ‘cooling off’ period, as this can make a huge difference in helping people stay in control of gambling and avoid serious financial problems. We’re delighted that Barclays has taken this step and hope that other banks will follow suit.”

Barclays has a gambling support page at barclays.co.uk/gambling-support.

The page says that signs someone’s gambling is getting out of control include feeling stressed or worried, getting into debt or struggling to pay for the basics such as food and household bills due to money having been spent on gambling.

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