In late November, the UK financial institution Lloyds Bank announced the trial of a new budgeting tool for gamblers.
It will allow customers with debit cards to set personalized limits on their monthly gambling expenditures.
This isn’t the first attempt by Lloyds to try to encourage safer gambling. In early 2020, it struck a partnership with the software supplier Gamban to allow its customers to implement an optional freeze on gambling transactions. Halifax UK and Bank of Scotland followed suit.
Once implemented, the spending limits and freezes remain in place indefinitely. However, customers can request to have the restrictions lifted.
Lloyds is touting the move as part of an initiative to help customers control spending in the midst of cost-of-living increases across Britain.
Anna Hemmings is the CEO of GamCare, an independent UK non-profit founded in 1997 to fight problem gambling across Britain. She said that Lloyds Bank’s new tool “complements the range of existing support features that we can recommend to people reaching out for help.”
UK Making Progress on Problem Gambling
Gambling addiction has been a hot-button topic in the UK in recent years. However, efforts to curb it have been showing signs of success.
Problem gambling rates, as reported by the British Gambling Commission, are, in most cases, below their pre-pandemic levels. Its latest study consisted of a survey of 4,018 adults, covering the 12 months ending September 2022. It found that participation in gambling was at a stable 44.1% and that the general problem gambling rate was 0.28%. The latter is a significant improvement from levels of around 0.5% in 2018-2020.
Even so, pushback on the gambling industry continues. The Lloyds Bank experiment comes even as lawmakers consider various regulatory changes, including a mandatory stake limit for online casinos. By introducing responsible gambling measures of their own accord, Lloyds and other companies may be attempting to avoid externally imposed restrictions.
A Foreshadowing of Gambling’s Stateside Future?
The UK has also been revisiting its policies on gambling advertisements.
To anyone who’s recently watched television in the United States – especially live sports – such a crackdown may seem like the stuff of fantasy. At the moment televised and online channels are overloaded with ads encouraging viewers to create accounts, deposit, collect massive bonuses (with lots of strings attached) and get betting.
Major US sports leagues and teams, after years of pushing back against sports betting, now have official betting partners and have begun opening up sportsbooks in arenas and stadiums.
In short, the current picture in the US resembles the situation in the UK and other European countries not too long ago. By the same token, it may soon be facing a lot of the same problems.
US companies might consider taking a look at what their peers overseas are doing. Regulated casinos already allow for users to set deposit limits. However, the user has to set a separate limit for each casino. Setting a single limit with the bank may make it easier to nip any potential problem in the bud.
If the Lloyds Bank experiment proves successful in helping its customers control their gambling, US financial institutions would benefit from adopting such policies sooner rather than later.