NatWest is to offer counselling sessions for gambling addicts inside branches as part of a pilot scheme that could be rolled out across the country.
The Guardian reported that problem gamblers will be able to make appointments to see experts from the charity GamCare in 13 branches of NatWest, even if they are not customers of the bank.
NatWest, part of state-owned Royal Bank of Scotland, said the trial would begin in London and the south-east, the Midlands and east of England, and the service could be introduced in more of its 700 branches.
It is also joining other lenders such as Monzo, Barclays and Starling by allowing customers to block gambling transactions on their bank accounts or credit cards through its mobile app.
NatWest’s head of lending, Phil Sheehy said: “Some customers might be uncomfortable going to an addiction centre…This is an accessible and neutral environment.
“We want to look at what we can do to help people who may be struggling with a gambling addiction, which can have a significant effect financially.”
The Guardian reported that Nicky Morgan, the secretary of state for digital, culture media and sport, urged more banks to consider launching partnerships with gambling charities to help customers cope with addiction problems.
“The government has been clear to all businesses that have connections to gambling, including bookmakers, major high-street banks and social media platforms, that they must be socially responsible and use the power of technology and data to help people manage their spending and protect them from gambling related harm,” said Morgan.
“I will closely monitor NatWest’s progress and I urge others in the banking sector to follow suit for the good of their customers.”