Westpac Customers Can Block Bankcard Gambling Transactions

Westpac (ASX: WBC), one of Australia’s largest banks, has introduced a new feature that will allow customers to block online gambling transactions in order to help and reduce problem gambling online.

The new feature is available through the bank’s mobile and online banking platforms, and it puts in place real-time blocks to prevent customers from completing transactions with a gambling operator using Mastercard-branded bankcards.

Since the feature’s launch a few weeks ago, the bank has seen more than 2500 customers enable it. The new feature came as online gambling has seen massive growth in Australia due to coronavirus related restrictions on the regular land-based industry.

In the past, financial institutions have implemented safety measures to reduce gaming transactions using credit cards, but the new feature from Australia’s second-largest bank is a step further that has been customized for online gambling services. For instance, it is able to prevent bets being placed at sites such as Sportsbet, TAB, and Ladbrokes.

Anne Ruston, the families and social services minister, said that the feature would allow Australians to place a safe bet while reducing harm from problem gambling.

Anne Ruston Families and Social Services Minister

Westpac’s digital gambling block will give Australians a convenient, sensible and immediate way to manage their spending and minimise gambling-related harm. It is great to see that groups in the industry have identified that gambling is a serious cause for concern and are taking steps to let their customers regulate the industry.

Anne RustonFamilies and Social Services Minister

The director of customer vulnerability at Westpac, Catherine Fitzpatrick, described problem gambling as a systemic problem in Australia, which has a “ripple effect” on those close to the gambler.

Fitzpatrick said that because of the pandemic far more people have been turning to online gambling adding that, “The new feature complements our existing service where customers can also call us to request a gambling block to be applied to their card to stop certain transactions, including at casinos, sports betting agencies and online gambling.”