Friday, 01 October 2021 16:48

Westpac helps more customers limit gambling losses

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Changes to Westpac Group's digital gambling block feature mean more customers can restrict their spending on gambling.

According to the group, the changes make the digital gambling block available to more than two million St.George, BankSA and Bank of Melbourne personal debit card customers, in addition to the Westpac debit card customers and all Westpac Group credit card customers covered by the original version released in March 2021.

The gambling block can be enabled in real time, and once applied prevents transactions with "certain gambling merchants including casinos, sports betting agencies and online gambling companies."

It has been activated more than 30,000 times since the original release.

The block is now automatically applied to debit card holders under the age of 18.

"Problem gambling continues to be a serious issue in Australian communities, and as more people transact online during the pandemic, the digital feature gives customers the ability to manage their gambling spend whenever they might need it," said Westpac director of customer vulnerability and financial resilience Catherine Fitzpatrick.

"The benefits of being able to apply a block in real-time also it gives customers more control and flexibility in the moment.

"While the majority of customers are now using digital channels to complete their everyday banking tasks, our customer care team continues to remain available as another way for customers to call and have a block applied."

Financial Counselling Australia director of policy and campaigns Lauren Levin said "We are noticing the pandemic has led to a rise in people gambling more and worried about their money.

"The gambling block is a great idea. Research tells us that the more often a person gambles, the greater the risk of developing a gambling issue. The bank gambling block is an easy tool that will help a lot of people.

"We'd also see the feature being used by other household or family members as a preventative measure.

"We encourage anyone who is worried about their gambling to use features like Westpac's gambling block, but also seek help. There are many doorways. You won't be judged. Talk to a family member or friend, a professional, or speak to your bank for support."

More information about the gambling block is available via the Westpac website or by calling 132 032 Monday to Friday, 9.00am – 6.00pm (AEST).

Westpac says customers experiencing financial difficulty can access support via Westpac Assist on 1800 067 497 or through the National Debt Helpline on 1800 007 007 or at www.ndh.org.au, and that Gambling Help Online provides free, confidential support via its website or the Gambler's Helpline on 1800 858 858.


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Stephen Withers

Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.

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