Financial Counselling Australia welcomes NAB’s announcement that it has become the first Australian bank to allow customers to block gambling transactions through their banking app.
“We congratulate NAB on this move, which makes it much easier for their customers to control their gambling. Gambling has a lot of stigma and shame, so the fact that a person can turn off their gambling without having to tell a stranger that they have gambling issues is a game changer,” said Lauren Levin, Director of Policy and Campaigns.
“More than 1000 people a week are turning the block on, which is a clear sign that people want tools to control their gambling. And the 10,000 people who activated the block in the first couple of months did so without NAB advertising the feature. This just shows that NAB have got it right by making the block self-serve.”
The self-exclusion feature is broad, preventing credit card cash advances and gambling coded transactions on both credit and debit cards. FCA urges the other banks to follow NAB’s lead.
Paying for gambling with credit is inherently dangerous, as most gamblers will lose at some point. However, there is evidence to show that debit card gambling can be the most damaging to financial wellbeing, as the whole amount in someone’s account can be transferred with the click of a button, whether that be $5,000 or $500,000 late one night.
“Sadly financial counsellors see people who have issues with gambling, who have lost thousands of dollars of their own money in really short spaces of time, and the outcome is tragic,” said Ms Levin.
There are some good things happening at other banks. HSBC and Macquarie have recently stopped their credit cards from being used for gambling. Westpac and Commonwealth Bank can activate gambling blocks on both credit and debit cards, but their customers still have to call the bank. NAB’s approach is superior because the customer can initiate the block in the app.
“FCA is making a submission in response to the current consultation by the Australian Banking Association about the use of credit cards for gambling. The submission argues that all banks need to stop credit cards being used for gambling – which is the situation in the UK. Spending borrowed money to gamble defies common sense and can lead to financial ruin,” said Ms Levin.
Financial Counselling Australia encourages anyone affected by gambling to call their bank and ask how their bank can help.
“There is a lot that banks can do, and are doing. We urge people not to batten down the hatches but to ask for help, from both their bank, financial counsellors and therapeutic gambling counsellors. Typically, a multi-pronged approach is needed,” said Ms Levin.
A gambling financial counsellor can help with gambling-related debts, and in putting in place protections. Gambling companies must help people put limits on their spend, and have easy ways to permanently self-exclude.
Media contact: Lauren Levin Financial Counselling Australia. Ph: 0411 050 035
FCA’s nine strategies that can help people deal with gambling issues
- Tell each of your wagering operators that you have gambling issues. Put it on the record over the phone or in writing, so they know you need support. Ask them to set appropriate deposit limits. Keep records.
- Set a pre-commitment limit online. Note you can change this, so it is a tool but not enough for many people.
- Ask your wagering operator for your gambling statement, with a bottom line. They should provide this information under the new online gambling consumer protection framework. Use it as a tool to understand your gambling. It is also useful for analysing whether the wagering operator could see you had a problem, and whether it had met its responsibilities under the National Consumer Protection Framework.
- If you’re a family member impacted by gambling, the wagering operator may not talk to you as you are not the account holder. Write to the ‘Responsible Gambling Manager.’ Provide them with enough details to identify the account holder, and explain your concerns about the harm, and ask them to make an objective assessment, with regard to the safety of the account holder and best practice consumer protection. In South Australia and Tasmania, talk to the state gambling regulator as those states have a legislated 3rd party exclusion process.
- Find a bank that has tools to support their customers who gamble. Some banks will let you put blocks on your debit and credit cards, so they can’t be used for gambling. It is a good preventative step to tell your bank you have gambling issues, and don’t want to be offered personal credit. Some banks now have special teams trained to support customers with gambling issues.
- Ask about strategies such as adding ‘two signatures to withdraw’ if you have someone trusted to support you. Gambling financial counsellors can help you with other strategies to protect joint assets.
- Address the underlying reason behind your gambling. You may need the help of a therapeutic gambling counsellor. It is worthwhile having your therapeutic counsellor and gambling financial counsellor sharing information and working together to support you. They each do different things and can work as a team with your consent.
Gambling financial counsellors and dealing with debt
- Speak to a free gambling financial counsellor, for help dealing with debts and money issues. They can also help people impacted by their partner or family member’s gambling. Call the National Debt Helpline on 1800 007 007 and talk to a financial counsellor. You may need to ask for a referral to a specialist gambling financial counsellor. Tip: It is useful to have your bank statements and gambling statements … think of them as similar to blood test results when you go to your GP.