Starling became the first UK bank to introduce a gambling block in 2018. This meant that customers could choose to block card payments made to gambling or betting merchants. The gambling block is found under the ’Card Controls’ section of the Starling app.

Our gambling block feature also includes a 48-hour delay for anyone wanting to reactivate gambling payments. This means that when a customer has enabled the block and then tries to switch it off, they’ll need to wait 48-hours for that to happen. This applies to all our accounts that support the block including personal, business and joint accounts. If you have multiple accounts, you would need to apply the block to each card.

How does the 48-hour delay work?

When the gambling block is on, Starling cards will be locked for all payments made to merchants associated with gambling or betting. Transactions at non-gambling merchants, for example buying a lottery ticket at a newsagent, will still go through. But if you try to bet on a football match on a betting website, this would be blocked. Once you switch it on, the block prevents payments immediately. It works by excluding payments to all merchants with a gambling licence, giving us a unique and reliable way to group these payments together and block them.

The 48-hour delay feature kicks in from the moment you try to switch the block off. It’s what’s known as ’positive friction’, a ’nudge’ or a ’cooling-off period’ for the customer who may change their mind when they’re given more time to think. It makes gambling or betting on impulse more difficult.

Why did Starling add a 48-hour delay for switching off the gambling block?

Starling added this feature following conversations with mental health and gambling charities and feedback from customers. The consensus is that a 48-hour delay makes the block more effective. The delay cannot be overridden by speaking to customer services or redownloading the Starling app. Customers are told about the 48-hour delay when they first deactivate gambling and betting payments.

When customers try to switch off the block, they will be provided with details of the National Gambling Helpline in case they need free advice or support on gambling. The number to call is 0808 8020 133.

How does the gambling block help Starling customers?

When you first open a Starling account, the gambling block will not be enabled, you need to choose to switch it on. In the Spending Insights tab of the Starling app you can find a range of categories, such as Groceries or Lifestyle, that show where you’ve spent money. To enable customers to control and understand where they spend their money, there’s also a separate category for ’Gambling’.

Whether gambling is an ongoing problem for you, or if it’s just something you do occasionally but want to stop completely, the gambling block is a simple tool to help you manage your finances.

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