NatWest is partnering with gambling charity GamCare, which provides support, advice and treatment for people impacted by gambling related harms, to facilitate confidential face-to-face support on the high street in a private space. As part of the partnership, GamCare and their delivery partners will be using NatWest branches for private consultations and to provide a range of talking therapies.
The charity currently operates the National Gambling HelpLine 24 hours a day, as well as a range of free-to-access face to face, telephone and online support and treatment services. Introducing services on the high street through their partnership with NatWest will increase accessibility and choice for clients seeking support.
As part of the pilot, consultations will be taking place in thirteen branches in London and the South East and Midlands and East.
These measures come as NatWest introduces a gambling block on credit cards on the mobile banking app. The block allows customers to take control of their spending and blocks all transactions linked to gambling.
GamCare will also provide bespoke training for NatWest’s specialist support teams, including Debt Management and Customer Protection teams, on how to identify gambling related harm and support customers who want to stop gambling. Meanwhile, as part of a training programme designed in partnership with the Money Advice Trust, a further 600 frontline staff are being upskilled with specialist training on vulnerability, which will include gambling addiction.
NatWest’s CEO of Personal Banking, Les Matheson, said: “The Gambling Commission estimate that there are around 340,000 adult problem gamblers in Great Britain, with a further 550,000 people considered to be suffering moderate harm as a result of gambling*. It is therefore more important than ever that support is easily available for those who need it. That is why I am immensely proud to be partnering with GamCare to bring this specialised support to the high street.
“I also want to ensure we are best able to support customers worried about how much they're spending on gambling, so I am introducing further specialised training for our teams and giving customers the tools to take greater control of their spending through our gambling block on credit cards.”
Nicky Morgan, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport said: "While millions of people gamble responsibly, protecting people from the risks of problem gambling is vital.
"The government has been clear to all businesses that have connections to gambling, including bookmakers, major high street banks and social media platforms that they must be socially responsible and use the power of technology and data to help people manage their spending and protect them from gambling related harm.
"So, I welcome these measures from Natwest and Gamcare to help more people. I will closely monitor NatWest's progress and I urge others in the banking sector to follow suit for the good of their customers."
GamCare CEO, Anna Hemmings, said: “Providing and increasing access to treatments for problem gambling is GamCare’s priority and partnering with NatWest is a fantastic step. To be able to offer our support on the high street in NatWest branches will make our help more available to the people that need it most, reducing traditional barriers to access.
“GamCare’s training to NatWest specialist teams will also help to ensure that they can identify anyone affected by gambling problems – their own or someone else’s – compassionately and effectively, swiftly referring them to the most appropriate support.
“These significant steps, alongside NatWest’s transaction blocking feature, are equipping problem gamblers across the UK with more tools and greater access to services to support their recovery."
*Gambling Behaviour in Britain in 2016 (https://www.gamblingcommission.gov.uk/PDF/survey-data/Gambling-behaviour-in-Great-Britain-2016.pdf)
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