Barclays Announces Update to Its Problem Gambling Tool

Barclays has updated its Merchant Control tool. The existing tool – which was launched in 2018 – allows problem gamblers to block gambling spending from their accounts. When the customer activates the problem gambling tool and then tries to deposit money to a casino, Barclays blocks the transaction.

The update gives customers extra control over their gambling habit by giving them more protection against problem gambling. Now when a customer switches off gambling transactions (i.e. gambling transactions are blocked) they have a 72-hour cooling-off period when switching transactions on again.

Why Barclays Introduced the 72-Hour Cooling-Off Update

The idea is to help gamblers avoid giving into impulses. It might sound a bit nannying – why should your bank tell you how to spend money? But, Barclay’s customers get to decide for themselves whether to switch the block tool on or off, and Barclay’s added the new 72-hour cooling-off period after feedback from customers.

Customers have used the blocking-tool a lot. It’s been used more than half-a-million times since Barclays first launched it. And, since activating the new 72-hour cooling-off period, it’s been used more than 187K times!

There’s been a lot of focus on problem gambling lately. Lockdown and a recent House of Lords Select Committee publication have put the spotlight on it even more. A key feature of Barclays’ blocking-tool is that it blocks other types of transaction.

The Tool Does More Than Just Block Gambling

You feel like a bit of a porker after gaining the covid-19lbs? My extra tyre wants you to know that you’re not alone. Apparently, so does Barclays because their Merchant Control tool lets you block restaurants, food outlets, pubs and bars. Just remember to pay before you eat, or you might end up washing dishes for a few hours. Although, the 72-hour cool off does seem to apply to the gambling feature only.

Other block categories are “Premium-rate websites and phone lines”, “Petrol and diesel”, and “Groceries and supermarkets”.

It’s easy to use the merchant block tool if you’re a Barclays customer. All you need to do is visit the card section on your mobile app, and you will be able to see the Merchant Control tool. You can then toggle transactions on/off with different types of merchant.

Remember, when you want to switch transactions back on after blocking them, you will have to wait for 72-hours before you can use your card for those transactions.

A Positive Move for the Gambling Community

You should have fun when you gamble, but when it becomes a problem, fun goes out the window. Campaigners have long wanted banks to get involved and offer features to help problem gamblers – Barclays has done that in their latest move.

I expect that we will see other banks following Barclays’ lead with a cooling-off period. The big banks do have gambling restriction tools but expect updates soon. 

A picture of a hand reaching out of a screen while holding a credit card, reaching out to another hand coming out of another screen on the opposite side, who's holding a bag. It represents merchant sales and therefore the problem gambling tool.