Cashplus Issues First UK Credit Card with Gambling Block

Hands holding phone and credit card
Cashplus is offering problem gambler customers the ability to block credit card payments to gambling platforms.

30-second summary

  • Challenger bank claims it is first to offer the feature
  • Customers will be able to block transactions with gambling operators
  • Other banks rolling out blocking options
  • Starling Bank’s blocker offers a chance to phone Gamble Aware
  • A ban on credit card gambling is on its way

Challenger bank Cashplus has announced it is launching the first credit card in the UK that allows customers to block transactions with gambling operators.

Self-exclusion via credit card

Cashplus is one of the so-called challenger banks, which are banks that have no branches, only websites and apps. They also use financial technology (fintech) to offer facilities that streamline a customer’s financial needs using open data.

The new Cashplus credit card will enable customers to self-exclude via their bank. A “one-click” action means they can block all transactions to any gambling platforms they use.

The card can also switch off the ability to withdraw funds from an ATM cash machine. Combined with blocking gambling transactions, this will help problem gamblers stop spending money on bets.

The bank has more than 1.5m customers in the UK, making it the largest of the challenger banks. The card could therefore have a strong initial takeup rate.

Customers have to request the blocking facility on the card via Cashplus’ call center. The blocking tool takes 24 hours to be activated, and a request to remove it will also take 24 hours.

Businesses can also request a block on any business credit cards they issue to their employees. This would prevent the cards from being misused for gambling or fraud.

An industry first for Cashplus?

Paul Schooley, chief operating officer at Cashplus, said: “There is a wider discussion around credit and gambling, but our role is to offer choice where customers want or need it. We believe better banking services can genuinely improve everyday life and we’ll continue to work hard on building features that make a difference.

“The new credit card block, in-app current account blocking, and the ATM withdrawal blocker all offer customers easy ways to restrict gambling spending, whether that’s a person struggling with addiction or someone who wants to safeguard their business.”

Despite Cashplus’ claim that its card is an industry game-changer, Starling, another challenger bank, rolled out a gambling block on its credit and debit cards in June 2018. The facility can be switched on inside Starling’s app, but it can be turned on again instantly. Gamblers who do so are offered an opportunity to call Gamble Aware for help from within the app.

High street bank Barclays also installed a gambling block on its mobile app in December. Gamblers can switch off transactions with online gambling platforms, betting shops and even the National Lottery.

And in January, three more banks, Lloyds, RBS, and Santander, joined the club. Each has offered customers the option to block spending money at bookmakers via their debit card.

National credit checking platform Experian has taken advantage of fintech’s open data possibilities to offer affordability checks. Gambling operators can check a customer’s ability to afford continued gambling if the customer has opted in to sharing their financial data.

Tom Blacksell, managing director of B2B at Experian, says: “People who choose to share data can prove they are gambling at a level they can afford, while gaming companies can meet their responsibilities to keep customers safe.”

A ban on the way

Credit card gambling is likely to be banned by the UK Gambling Commission within the next year or two. The UKGC is currently consulting across the industry on the issue. Currently, gamblers in the UK wager an estimated £8.6bn ($11.25bn) via credit and debit cards every year.

Campaigners have had credit cards in their sights as the next battle in the war on problem gambling. Lord Chadlington, a long-time campaigner against gambling advertising and the former chair of Action on Addiction, welcomed the move by Cashplus.

He said: “I’m pleased that firms like Cashplus and others are taking positive action to protect those at risk. Action is urgently needed on gambling with credit, so voluntary restrictions from banks and other providers are a welcome first step.”

Gambling harm expert Tony Franklin, of the campaigning organization Gambling Hurts, said: “I’m delighted that Cashplus is leading the way with credit-card blocking and offering customers an easier way to restrict gambling transactions from their current accounts and now from their credit card as well.

“This functionality, along with the possibility to restrict ATM withdrawals within its app, shows a welcome commitment to helping customers take control of their finances. With the number of gambling addicts in the UK estimated at 430,000 with a further 2m at risk, this functionality can offer real and practical help as part of seeking out help to stop.”