Conor D’Arcy, Interim Chief Executive, Money and Mental Health Policy Institute

Help us protect more people from gambling-related harm

23 August 2023

  • We will soon be launching a new and exciting three-year programme of work on gambling.
  • Bringing together experts by experience, cross-sector professionals and representatives from a number of financial services firms, we’ll investigate how banks can help protect people from gambling-related harms. 
  • Building on our previous work into gambling, we’ll work together on overcoming the challenges banks feel are the thorniest, and provide hands-on support to push forward progress.
  • It’s a big project, and we’re looking for the right person to lead it all. With so many different elements, we’re keen to hear from people with a range of experiences. You can learn more and apply here.

Since Money and Mental Health launched back in 2016, gambling is an issue we’ve frequently returned to. That’s partly led by members of our Research Community – a group of 5,000 people all with lived experience of mental health problems – who have told us just how destructive it can be when your gambling gets out of control. But it’s also because there’s been a real appetite for change from some of the organisations best-placed to help prevent harm: banks. To help turn those good intentions into concrete, effective actions, we’re launching a ground-breaking new programme of work, and we’re looking for someone to lead it.

Our journey so far

Over recent years, we’ve explored online gambling, and heard from people who felt that getting help earlier could’ve been transformative.

Early intervention would have saved me wasting my thirties wasting tens of thousands of pounds.”  Expert by experience.

We’ve looked at how banks could use customer data more generally to protect us when we’re struggling, including with unaffordable spending.

Although I might feel bad about the highlighted problem that isn’t necessarily a bad thing if it prevents serious financial difficulty.” Expert by experience

And we first dipped our toe in the water with financial services firms on gambling with a two-year project, supported by the Gambling Commission. On a subject that can be difficult to talk about, banks (along with gambling companies) have an invaluable insight into our spending habits. Tools like gambling blocks are something we’ve called for from our earliest days, and it’s been great to see them become a standard offer with current accounts. But with plenty left to do, we started a conversation to identify and spread best practice when it comes to protecting customers from gambling-related harm.

I’ve had a really insightful morning attending the Money and Mental Health Gambling Harm Conference. Important conversations being had on what more can be done across financial services to better safeguard all vulnerable customers experiencing gambling addictions.” Staff member in financial services firm.

Remaining challenges and new approaches

When we wrapped up that project, it felt like there was a huge amount of energy and enthusiasm from vulnerable customer leads to do more. But we heard a number of challenges cropping up. Sometimes these were regulatory, with staff unsure about exactly what was allowed, for instance when it came to tools and data use. We heard worries about how customers would react to messages about their gambling. And people shared the internal barriers they had to navigate, like getting senior buy-in for new approaches.

In this new programme, also backed by the Gambling Commission, we’re planning to bring together a handful of representatives from banks to work together on the challenges they feel are the thorniest. These sorts of groups are called Action Learning Sets, and involve sharing problems with peers and asking lots of questions to help find the way to a solution. We’ll be involving members of our Research Community throughout that process, to make sure the discussions and answers are deeply informed by lived experience. And we’ll be working hands-on with firms, supporting them as they try innovative approaches, giving them feedback and insight – drawing on our expertise built up through Mental Health Accessible. As ever at Money and Mental Health, we want to make sure the positive impact of this is felt as widely as possible, so the programme will involve lots of engagement with stakeholders across the worlds of gambling research, policy, regulation and financial services.

Who we’re looking for

It’s a big project, and we’re looking for the right person to lead it all. With so many different elements, we think there are just as many different backgrounds and skill-sets that could make you an ideal fit to be the Head of Gambling Action Lab. Maybe you’ve worked in consultancy and are looking for a chance to have a meaningful impact in a new area. Maybe you’re a researcher with a passion for converting knowledge into action. Or maybe you’re an excellent communicator, brilliant at bringing people together, understanding their points of view and spreading the ideas far and wide. An understanding of financial services or addiction would be a plus too. But you don’t need to tick all those boxes on your own. To help you deliver the programme, you’ll be able to hire two team members, as well as drawing on the experience and networks of the rest of the Money and Mental Health team.

If this role sounds of interest, or you know someone who you think would be perfect for this, do take a look at the job pack and application page. Or if you’re working in a bank and want to know how to get involved, do get in touch.