Canada Seeks New Ways to Protect iGamers

How Canada banks can promote safe online gambling tools.

New Horizons 2021: Banks Promote Safe Online Gambling Tools

The British Columbia Lottery Corp (BCLC) is one of the world’s most respected gaming regulators where problem gambling prevention is concerned. The regulator is the proprietor of the award-winning GameSense program, “supporting healthy play” among the provinces recreational gamblers for nearly ten years now. GameSense has been so highly commended over the years, it was integrated into Manitoba Gaming Control Commission’s extension of the BCLC PlayNow.com website in 2013, was adopted by both the Alberta Gaming & Lottery Commission and the Massachusetts Gaming Commission in 2015, and became the model for a multitude of other US state lottery organizers thereafter.

BCLC has hosted the New Horizons in Responsible Gambling conference each year since 2013. One of the main topics is social responsibility, and the mission to ensure GameSense remains ahead of the game in Canada’s battle to extinguish gambling addiction. On the agenda for New Horizons 2021 is an exploration of ways banks can assist in that goal.

Canada Banks to Promote Safe Online Gambling Tools

One of the primary features of GameSense is its use as a voluntary self-exclusion tool. Gamblers who are aware of compulsory behavior are able to sign up for self-exclusion through the GameSense website, thereby giving land-based and online gambling operations permission to prohibit them from accessing games or placing wagers.

During a New Horizons pre-conference discussion last week, attendants heard how banks could be offering a similar service to their members.

Canadian Banks Could Promote Gaming Self-Exclusion

Natalie Ledward is the vulnerability manager at London-based Monzo Bank Ltd. She led a discussion at a BCLC-hosted webinar entitled, Banking on a Different Perspective: The Financial Industry’s Role in Safer Gambling; one of two pre-conferences leading up to New Horizons 2021.

Ms. Ledward told attendants of a collection of digital tools and support resources Monzo Bank provides its customers, each aimed at tackling the harmful impact gambling can have on individuals. The idea is to promote a safer gambling experience, in which the player has more awareness and control over their habits; all very similar to what GameSense provides to so many customers of Canada’s live and online casinos.

In 2018, Monzo Bank introduced a voluntary self-exclusion program for its members. Those who chose to use it would have their account blocked from making any gambling-related purchases. Banks already have the technology to do this, using specific merchant codes provided by major credit card companies to categorize different types of purchases.

“Banks play a huge role in identifying people’s spending habits,” said Ms. Ledward. “They have the opportunity to be the first to find out about their customers’ gambling behaviours and can begin to offer those customers help.”

Will Banks Succeed Where Casinos Have Failed?

It’s no secret that problem gamblers have continued to gain access to gambling products, even after signing up for voluntary self-exclusion; especially where land-based casinos are concerned. Even in British Columbia – the birthplace of GameSense – casinos are notorious for “accidentally” letting an excluded gambler onto the casino floor. The problem is obvious. Casinos make too much money off problem gamblers.

Banks have no vested interested in an account holder’s continued wagering. Quite the opposite, in fact. They would much prefer their members stick to healthy investments. Providing safe online gambling tools is just another way they can help their members make smarter decisions.

“Banks show a great degree of pro-activity already,” said Simon McNair, a session panelist and policy advisor for London’s Behavioural Insight Team. “Controlling gambling behaviour, especially more problematic behaviour, is absolutely in-part a money-management issue. Helping customers to that end will have numerous benefits – from helping people to keep their accounts in good standing, preventing people falling into debt, or to helping them to pay down debt.”

A second pre-conference leading up to the 2021 New Horizons is scheduled for January 27.

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