Monzo calls for all UK banks to offer gambling blockers in an open letter to government

The online bank Monzo has called for all UK banks to be forced to offer gambling blocks to customers.

In an open letter to the government, the online bank Monzo has called for all UK banks to be forced to offer gambling blocks to customers in an effort to help people control their gambling habits.

The letter is addressed to Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston who is currently leading the UK government’s review of the 2005 Gambling Act.

Monzo’s call to action

In its letter to the government, Monzo, researchers, charities and other organisations have urged the UK government to consider three key changes as part of the Gambling Act review.

The first change will see the introduction of a requirement for account providers in the UK to make sure every consumer can access a friction driven, card based gambling block – regardless of who they bank with. 

Monzo is also calling for gambling companies to be ordered to disclose their bank accounts on a registry so that banks and other financial institutions can extend their gambling blocks to bank transfers and card payments made to gambling companies.

The letter also calls for gaming companies to find a way to differentiate loot box transactions from typical gaming purchases so that consumers can block loot box transactions using existing gambling blocks.

The letter read: “Ultimately, the Gambling Act review offers a unique opportunity to create a world-leading self-exclusion framework in the UK to reduce gambling harms, and help consumers gain control of their finances.

“The rise in online gambling, and new ways to pay, requires a robust response from the Government. These small changes, in combination with other, existing self-exclusion tools, would help the UK to create world leading harm-reduction standards.”

According to the letter, at least eight major banks already offer some kind of gambling block service, but some of  the tools available only apply to certain types of accounts or cards. On top of this, Monzo said it has 275,000 users with active gambling blocks and that less than 10% of customers deactivate the block once activated.

The letter went on to say: “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. These tools are simple to build, proven to work, and will help protect hundreds of thousands of people.

“The Government will also need to take steps to future proof these tools, and address new developments in the online gambling market to make sure such comprehensive payment blockers and harm reduction measures work today, next year, and in the decades to come.”

The Gambling Act review

In December, the UK’s Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden announced that the UK government would be carrying out its review of the 2005 Gambling Act.

The government launched a call for evidence where it will look at the role of the Gambling Commission, online restrictions and marketing to examine how the industry has changed over the last 15 years.

The government will also explore the protections available to online gamblers such as stake and deposit limits, promotional offers and whether extra protections are needed for young adults.