Westbak Gambling Block Feature

‘Westbank, an Australian bank adds gambling payment block features. But is it enough to prevent problem gamblers from funding their habit?!’ (Photo by Joey Csunyo on Unsplash)

Westpac Bank in Australia has followed in the footsteps of UK banks by adding a gambling payment block feature to its internet banking app. The idea is for those with a gambling problem to set up a block, so when they get the urge to fund their online sports betting account, they simply cannot!

Gambling-related websites on the app will unlikely include the many overseas Curacao eGaming licensed online casinos and is more targeted towards the legal online sports betting industry in the country.

As far as blocking online casinos and sportsbooks operating outside of the legal frameworks set out by the Australian government, this is more a case of ISPs blocking access to domains and IPs. Therefore, just how well this new initiative by Westpac bank will go to curb problem gambling is not clear! However, something is better than nothing and it is good to see banks investing in such tech and taking an interest in their customers’ wellbeing so kudos to them!

The new gambling block is now available on both the mobile app and desktop web interface platform. If a person has specifically set the app to block gambling websites in the country, no matter how hard that person tries, the transaction will be refused.

It is exactly the same approach many British banks have taken in the UK, where online gambling websites are far more accessible and widespread. At the same time, British gambling laws set out by the UKGC also prevent UK citizens from using credit cards to fund online casino, sports betting, lottery, or bingo websites! However, the country still faces a similar problem to Australia whereby black market online gambling sites slip through the net!

According to Westpac bank officials, there are now 2,500+ members of the bank using the gambling block which blocks sites like Ladbrokes, Tabcorp owned sites, Betfair, and Bet365!

How Westbank Bank’s Gambling Payment Block Feature Fits Into the Australian Market!

The subject of gambling as a whole has long been an issue in Australia. Land-based slots/pokies rooms and casinos can operate under strict laws with on the floor staff keeping an eye out for punters that appear to be spending too much. Also, strict money laundering laws are in place, and if caught not checking up on those gambling excessive amounts of cash, the fines can go into the 6-digit area!

Public enemy number one in the country is online casinos which are completely banned. The government is also on a continuous lookout for domain names and IPs of online casinos that operate from abroad but still accept Aussie punters. Those identified are placed on a shortlist which is sent to the many ISPs ordering them to block these sites.

However, when it comes to online sports betting, the government takes a much more lenient approach which has allowed several well-known British sports books to offer web-based sports books. This is where Westpac Bank’s app comes into play. The app identifies each website’s owing company, or the subsidiary used to process online payments. When a player tries to use his or her debit/credit card, the bank detects the payment destination, discovers it is blocked, and then instantaneously rejects the transaction.

One of the real issues the Australian government still needs to address is how it can bring online casinos under a homebred legal framework. Such a system would then prevent Aussie citizens from using overseas websites and enable them to use the Westbank payment block. At the same time, it would make detecting problem gambles easier with correctly implemented tech used to identify problem gamblers!

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