Monzo Says UK Should Require Banks to Strengthen Betting Safeguards

Posted on: February 16, 2021, 03:14h. 

Last updated on: February 16, 2021, 03:36h.

Monzo, an online bank in the United Kingdom, says the government should force financial institutions to strengthen their gambling safeguards.

Monzo online gambling UK casino
An online gambler is seen here using a credit card to gamble online. UK online banker Monzo is offering its customers tools to prevent funds from going to gambling sites. (Image: Shutterstock)

More than five million people have online Monzo bank accounts. And the company says one of its product’s most important features is giving customers the ability to block all transactions related to gambling.

In a recent letter to Nigel Huddleston, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Arts, Heritage, and Tourism, Monzo officials argue that all banks should offer tools to customers to bar themselves from gambling.

Huddleston is heading a thorough review of the UK’s gambling regulations.

We believe the government should take the opportunity afforded by the Gambling Act review to make sure every consumer in the UK can access these blocks, regardless of who they bank with,” said Monzo CEO TS Anil.

When it launched in 2015, Monzo was one of the first so-called “challenger banks” in the UK to take on larger, more-established financial institutions. It’s now leading the campaign to reform how banks operate with gambling businesses.

Gaming Regulatory Changes

The UK has already implemented some modifications to its gaming industry in recent years.

In 2018, the maximum bet on fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBT) was slashed from £100 ($139) to just £2 ($2.78). The change resulted in hundreds of High Street betting shops closing, and thousands of employees losing their jobs.

More recently, the UK National Lottery announced it would raise the minimum playing age from 16 to 18 years old. A report found that the 16-17-year-old age group spent around $60 million annually on lottery games. The age increase is set to go into effect this year.

Last August, a British policy group called the Social Market Foundation recommended that online gamblers be required to prove that they can afford their losses. The think tank suggested that anyone who loses more than £100 in a month be mandated to prove to an independent agency that they have the income to afford additional gaming losses.

The gaming industry quickly rebuffed the suggestion.

“We can think of no other area of the economy where the government determines how much an individual can spend,” the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) stated. “Some 30 million people enjoy an occasional bet, whether that’s on the lottery, bingo, or sports and gaming, and the overwhelming majority of them do so perfectly safely.”

No such regulation has yet been endorsed by Parliament. However, earlier this month, the UK Gambling Commission unveiled a package of new regulations that are to “strengthen the protections and controls for those who gamble through online slots.”

The key component of the new directive is that iGaming operators must slow down their interactive slot games, with a minimum of 2.5 seconds between spins.

Gaming Industry Supports Effort

While the Betting and Gaming Council rejected the online slot cap, it has supported the 2.5-second break between spins. It’s also come out in support of Monzo’s initiative to require banks to offer blocks on internet betting transactions.

“We support all forms of blocking capabilities and are encouraged by the continued uptake by banks of these functions,” a statement read.