Westpac Group has expanded its digital gambling blocking feature to provide customers with more ways to restrict their spending at gambling merchants in real time. The latest changes mean the digital feature will now be available to more than two million St. George, BankSA and Bank of Melbourne personal debit card customers.

The digital feature was made available earlier this year, allowing customers with eligible cards1 to apply an instant blocking on certain transactions related to gambling via their mobile or online banking.

When the gambling block is enforced, transactions with certain gambling dealers, including casinos, sports betting companies and online gambling companies, are instantly prevented.

Westpac’s Director of Client Vulnerability and Financial Resilience, Catherine Fitzpatrick, says digital functionality helps deliver support to clients when they need it most and has already been activated over 30,000 times since it was first put into service.

“Problem gambling continues to be a serious issue in Australian communities, and as more people transact online during the pandemic, the digital functionality gives customers the ability to manage their gambling spending whenever they want. ‘they need it.

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

“While the majority of customers now use digital channels to perform their day-to-day banking tasks, our customer service team remains available as another way for customers to call in and apply a block,” said Fitzpatrick.

As part of the latest updates, a game block is also now automatically applied to all Westpac Group debit cardholders under the age of 18 to help prevent underage gambling.

Lauren Levin, director of policy and campaigns at Financial Counseling Australia, said more and more people were concerned about their finances and gambling during the pandemic.

“We are noticing that the pandemic has led to an increase in the number of people gambling more and worrying about their money.

“The game block is a great idea. Research tells us that the more often a person gambles, the greater the risk of developing a gambling problem. The banking game block is a simple tool that will help a lot of people.

“We would also see the feature being used by other members of the household or family as a preventative measure.

“We encourage anyone who is worried about their game to use features like the Westpac game block, but also to ask for help. There are a lot of doors. You will not be judged. Talk to a family member or friend, a professional or ask your bank for help, ”Levin said.

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