BCLC Pushes Banks to Up Responsible Gambling Efforts

The goal is cooperation. The British Columbia Lottery Corporation (BCLC) is urging financial institutions to make more of an effort to monitor customer spending and behaviors. The gambling regulator suggests that increased cooperation between banks and gambling operators may prove beneficial for customers.

New Horizons in Responsible Gambling

BCLC put together a series of conference sessions leading up to a 2021 conference set for March. The New Horizons in Responsible Gambling has been an annual effort since 2013. And with the pandemic continuing to jeopardize health and prevent travel, the 2021 activities are virtual and broken down into pre-conference sessions leading up to the official conference on March 9-10.

The goal for this year is to focus on player health. Responsible gambling is the theme of every year’s conference, but the 2021 activities will focus on responding to new challenges. The pandemic that drove many gamblers online in 2020 presented new technological challenges and requires new plans going forward.

The 2021 New Horizons in Responsible Gambling Conference’s theme is “Player Health Reboot.” The topics to be addressed include:

  • Lessons learned in the sports betting industry
  • More frequent use of cashless technologies
  • Applications of behavioural science to create positive changes
  • Emerging risks of day-trading
  • Renewed approaches to support players more effectively

Overall, the conference aims to gather information, examine the tools available, and use technology to work better for the industry…all with the goal of protecting players.

Banking on a Different Perspective

Nice pun.

The first pre-conference session actually took place in early December 2020, but BCLC didn’t make the video open to the public until January 2021. The topic was the financial industry’s role in safer gambling.

BCLC Manager of Player Health Kim Steinbart hosted the hour-long livestream. The two featured speakers were Simon McNair, Policy Advisor with the Behavioural Insight Team, and Natalie Ledward, Monzo Bank Vulnerability Manager.

Behaviours Related to Gambling

McNair explained environmental effects on behaviours. Institutions and governments use that information to better develop public policies.  With regard to gambling, those environmental factors can affect gambling behaviours. For example, with online gambling, suggested information can influence player behaviours.

One thing that some gambling sites have been implementing is deposit limits. They give players the chance to put an initial limit on the amount (within a certain time frame) of money they can deposit. Traditionally, sites provide examples of limits that are higher than most would find beneficial, so McNair explains that setting lower amounts as examples – or giving no suggestions at all – will encourage more players to set some limits.

He also noted that analyzing customers’ banking data can provide insights into their spending habits, as the data is factually accurate and objective. Using that information helps research:

  • Characteristics of gamblers
  • Patterns of gambling
  • Gambling behaviours related to patters of income and spending
  • Gambling behaviours related to savings and credit card usage
  • Results of using gambling block functions

McNair highlighted four major ways that banks could help reduce gambling harm:

  • Harm identification as a first response or indicator
  • Affordability checking through processing gambling transactions
  • Potential forms of intervention after identifying harm
  • Blocking availability for customers

Banks Working with Gambling Operators

Ledward talked about the journey of Monzo Bank through the process of becoming more involved in reducing gambling harm. Monzo is a relatively new bank – a virtual one that garnered its license in 2017, one that now has about 4.6 million customers.

In the UK, banks are required to look after vulnerable customers, but Ledward said it is vitally important to the bank’s basic mission. And in that vulnerability category, the two most prevalent issues with customers are mental health and gambling addiction.

As the bank has grown, it has implemented new initiatives.

  • Gambling blocks, initially and consistently requested by customers, which players must initiate but must talk to a representative to lift. Fewer than 10% of customers have turned the block off.
  • “Share with us” chat as a direct line to a customer specialist, one that doesn’t leave any record of the conversation and is discreet.
  • Monzo highlights success stories and support options.

Not all banks in the UK have taken the same steps as Monzo, but their positive feedback from customers indicate that they are on the right track.

BCLC Seeking Banking Partners

BCLC Director of Player Health Dr. Jamie Wiebe noted after the session that banks play an integral role in increasing the tools available to reduce gambling harm. When looking to engage with other industries in search of collective approaches, banks were a natural choice.

Wiebe said, “Banks have an important role to play in helping gambling operators better understand the relationship between their customers’ spending and gambling behaviours, which helps the gambling industry enhance our tools in response.”



Jennifer Newell

Jennifer Newell

Jennifer Newell has been writing about poker and gambling since 2004. From her days in the WPT offices to covering summers of WSOP tournament action, she also followed gambling legislation to Washington D.C. and women-only poker to the Bahamas. Meanwhile, she lived in Los Angeles and Las Vegas for many years before moving back to her hometown of St. Louis, Missouri. Now, Jen travels less, writing about poker and online gambling from her home with her two dogs watching her every move. In her spare time, she follows politics, works on her never-finished novels, and learns Italian in the hopes of retiring to Italy someday.

If you want to know more, you can follow Jen on Twitter @WriterJen


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