Problem gambling is one of the most discussed topics in UK gambling circles lately. Charities and the UK Gambling Commission are looking for stricter regulations and operators are trying to catch up and ensure that they work in accordance with regulations.
Protection of children is a particular topic of interest lately and just in the past month there have been few initiatives aimed at preventing underage gambling. There’s increased pressure on pubs regarding gaming machines, while the Children’s Commissioner calls for a ban on loot boxes, since most of the players who purchase loot boxes are children.
Many other companies and organisations have joined the initiatives and are actively contributing towards responsible gambling. NatWest owned by Bank of Scotland decided to provide space for counselling for gambling addicts. It is a new and innovative type of a pilot scheme that could eventually be offer to players all over the UK.
GamCare experts will provide support
Here is how the system is going to work. People who feel that they have a gambling problem can make an appointment and meet one of the experts who work for GamCare. That has been an option in the past as well, but now it is possible to see an expert at one of the 13 NatWest branches that are part of the pilot.
The trial begins in London and several other areas of the country like the Midlands, the South-East and the East, but it could stretch to all 700+ branches of the company. NatWest is also joining other companies in offering their customers the right to block gambling transactions from their accounts. Companies like Barclays, Starling and Monzo are already offering customers this opportunity.
It is estimated that about 340,000 people in the UK have a gambling problem, which is more than 0.5% of the population. This figure is provided by the UK Gambling Commission, but it is also worth noting that about 550,000 are suffering moderate gambling harm.
Government urges other banks and other organisations to launch similar programmes
Gambling addiction doesn’t only harm gamblers but also their families and the economy as a whole. Several studies have shown the negative effects of gambling and that gambling harm costs the economy hundreds of millions. Risk of suicide is another thing to consider when discussing problem gambling and its effects.
The self-exclusion scheme came with some technical issues, and many activists that have been promoting responsible gaming complained that there aren’t sufficient addiction services. A representative of NatWest stated that the company’s goal was to offer people an opportunity to deal with the issue in a safe and secure environment, adding that many of those who have a problem would not be comfortable about going to an addiction centre, whereas the branches of the bank are more accessible and neutral.
The current Secretary for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Nicky Morgan is looking to encourage more banks in the country to launch similar programmes, it has been reported. Morgan also stated that all companies in the gambling industry are urged to be more socially responsible and do more to help people manage their spending while protecting themselves from gambling and gambling induced harm.
A representative of GamCare also stated that everyone at the organisation are thrilled about the opportunity to offer their services in NatWest branches.