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Westpac Group has extended its digital gambling block feature to provide more ways for customers to restrict their spend with gambling merchants in real-time. The latest changes mean the digital feature will now be available for over two million St.George, BankSA and Bank of Melbourne personal debit card customers.

The digital feature was made available earlier this year enabling customers with eligible cards to apply an instant block on certain gambling-related transactions through their mobile or online banking. When the gambling block is applied, transactions to certain gambling merchants including casinos, sports betting agencies and online gambling companies are instantly prevented.

Catherine Fitzpatrick, Director of Customer Vulnerability & Financial Resilience at Westpac, said: “Problem gambling continues to be a serious issue in Australian communities, and as more people transact online during the pandemic, the digital feature gives customers the ability to manage their gambling spend whenever they might need it.

“The benefits of being able to apply a block in real-time also it gives customers more control and flexibility in the moment.

“While the majority of customers are now using digital channels to complete their everyday banking tasks, our Customer Care team continues to remain available as another way for customers to call and have a block applied.”

As part of the latest updates, a gambling block is also now automatically applied to all Westpac Group debit cardholders under the age of 18 to help prevent underage gambling.

Lauren Levin, Director of Policy & Campaigns at Financial Counselling Australia said more people have become concerned about their finances and gambling during the pandemic.

“We are noticing the pandemic has led to a rise in people gambling more and worried about their money.

“The gambling block is a great idea. Research tells us that the more often a person gambles, the greater the risk of developing a gambling issue. The bank gambling block is an easy tool that will help a lot of people.

“We’d also see the feature being used by other household or family members as a preventative measure.

“We encourage anyone who is worried about their gambling to use features like Westpac’s gambling block, but also seek help. There are many doorways. You won’t be judged. Talk to a family member or friend, a professional, or speak to your bank for support,” Levin said.

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