A major UK bank is set to launch a new scheme to help customers at risk of gambling harm.
NatWest has announced that it will be joining with GamCare to set up a pilot scheme that will offer counselling and advice to customers. The bank will hold the sessions at its high street sites.
NatWest will launch the GamCare scheme in 13 of its branches, across the Midlands, South East and London. Branches which offer the service will enable anyone to walk in and make an appointment to speak with a trained counsellor from GamCare.
The idea behind the scheme is that some people would find it easier to come into a bank to discuss a gambling problem than to go to a clinic. NatWest say that they are aiming to help UK health bodies to tackle the problem of gambling addiction by offering a neutral venue for counselling. It is also reported that if the scheme is a success, it could be extended to all of the bank’s 700 branches. In addition, the bank is to offer specialist training to 600 of its staff to enable them to spot signs of problem gambling.
Speaking about the scheme, the Development Director at GamCare, Mike Kenward, said that it reflected the link between money issues and gambling:
“The relationship between problem gambling and financial problems is well established, although not enough is known about it.”
The government has also praised the scheme, and the Department of Culture Media and Sports (DCMS) are monitoring its progress. DCMS have also said that it is important for all sectors of the economy to learn to spot the signs of problem gambling. If the scheme proves a success, other banks and building societies may follow suit and set up their own versions.