A major UK banking chain is launching a partnership with a gambling charity to help people out of difficulty.
NatWest – a brand of Royal Bank of Scotland – is running the scheme as a pilot in thirteen branches across England in association with GamCare.
The Government welcomed the move, saying it had called on bookmakers, banks and social media companies to help protect people from gambling harm.
Alongside the new partnership, NatWest has followed Barclays and Monzo banks in allowing customers to block gambling transactions through its mobile app.
And it has pledged to train bank staff on identifying gambling-related harm.
Under the new pilot scheme, bank branches would be used as meeting rooms for people to speak to trained GamCare advisers.
NatWest’s CEO of Personal Banking, Les Matheson, said he was “immensely proud” of the partnership.
He added that the bank wanted “to ensure we are best able to support customers worried about how much they’re spending on gambling”.
GamCare CEO, Anna Hemmings, said: “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.”
And Nicky Morgan, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, backed the move while urging others “to follow suit for the good of their customers”.
Earlier this year, a study found people battling gambling addictions are 15 times more likely to commit suicide than those in the general population.
Academics at Lund University, Sweden, monitored more than 2,000 problem gamblers over an eleven year period.
The study showed that, though the causes of suicide were complex, there was a significant link between gambling addiction and higher rates of suicide.
The risk for men aged between 20 and 49 is even higher, with suicide rates 19 times greater than the general population.