Customers that activate the feature will see any gambling-related transactions automatically declined by the bank for at least 48 hours.
The blocker will remain in place indefinitely until a customer chooses to remove the function, after which they would need to wait 48 hours until being permitted to make a gambling payment.
NatWest customers can access the gambling control in their mobile banking app via Manage My Card, and then Card payment controls.
“The introduction of a gambling block for debit card customers will help us to equip problem gamblers across the UK with more tools to support their recovery,” NatWest’s chief executive of retail banking David Lindberg said.
The new blocker is an extension of an existing feature on NatWest’s credit cards, whereby customers had been able to block gambling transactions on their credit card. This was prior to the British Gambling Commission introducing an outright ban on using credit cards to fund gambling in April this year.
NatWest introduced the initial credit card blocking option after it entered into a partnership with gambling support charity GamCare in November last year.
This has seen NatWest and GamCare provide support, advice and treatment for gamblers and their loved ones experiencing harm, as well as offering bespoke training to NatWest’s specialist support teams on how to identify gambling harm.
“Problem gambling and financial hardship go hand in hand and through our work with GamCare, we have offered an increasing amount of help to those customers who need it most through our trained specialists and donating branch space for treatment therapy to reduce traditional barriers to access,” Lindberg said.
GamCare chief executive Anna Hemmings added: “The ability to block gambling transactions through your bank card or app is an important tool for those struggling with their gambling, and is ideally used together with other practical tools such as self-exclusion, blocking software, and specialist support around the issue.”
Carolyn Harris MP, chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Gambling Related Harm, also welcomed the new function, saying gambling blocks and the financial services sector have an important role to play in preventing gambling related harm.
Earlier this year, mobile-focused bank Starling Bank also added a 48-hour delay to its gambling blocker for customers before payments can be reactivated.