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Digital Environment Research Institute (DERI)

The Prevention of Gambling Harm- Multi-disciplinary Research Hub

A Unique Position and a Difficult Challenge:  Banks’ Support of Individuals Experiencing Gambling-Related Financial Harm   [PDF 1,848KB]

A Unique Position and a Difficult Challenge:  Banks’ Support of Individuals Experiencing Gambling-Related Financial Harm  

Report prepared by Professor Julia Hörnle,  Dr Janelle Jones, Rita Kenkwanzi and Elizabeth Quinn,
Queen Mary  University of London 

Suggested Citation 
Hörnle, J., Jones, J. M., Kenkwanzi, R., & Quinn, E. A. (February 2024). A Unique Position and a Difficult Challenge: Banks’ Support of Individuals Experiencing Gambling-Related Financial Harm. Queen Mary University of London. 

Contact Professor Julia Hörnle, Centre for Commercial Law Studies, Queen Mary University of London


The Prevention of Gambling Harm- Multi-disciplinary Research Hub at Queen Mary University of London

The aim of the Research Hub is the minimisation of gambling-related harm through positive measures taken by service providers facilitating online gambling. Our research focuses on what open banking API developers, banks, lenders, gambling operators and their technology providers can do to minimise harm. We believe an effective prevention strategy should involve as many stakeholders as possible and develop regulatory standards based on evidence-based research. The fintech and payments industry plays a key role in protecting customers from gambling harm and recent advances in artificial intelligence and data science should be harnessed to better protect online gamblers. We believe that if such measures are implemented in a transparent way, through industry initiative or regulation, this would significantly reduce the social and economic harms caused by online gambling.

Our methodology will involve a mix of data science, surveys and in-depth interviews with experts by experience, legal analysis and industry interviews.

We focus on the requirements for open banking APIs used for fraud prevention, anti-money laundering and affordability checks. The aim of our research is to prevent misuse of open banking data for marketing purposes exploiting financial vulnerabilities of customers. Secondly, we examine the effectiveness of gambling blocks offered by banks and other protective measures taken by banks. Thirdly, we research correlations between particular gambling behaviours and suicide by examining largescale banking data in order to extrapolate suicide prevention measures banks could take. Fourthly, we plan to work with some online gambling service providers to examine the effectiveness of early identification of vulnerable or at risk players. The aim is to identify better datapoints for establishing a reliable risk profile that triggers early interventions (slowing down, limiting deposits/stakes, communication, nudging towards self-exclusion, exclusion). Furthermore, we examine other protective measures taken by the gambling industry, including regular statements on gambling expenditure and losses. Finally, we undertake research on better understanding how gamblers get into debt and how responsible lending standards should be improved to address online gambling risks specifically.

The multi-disciplinary Research Hub at QMUL consists of Professor Julia Hörnle (Centre for Commercial Law Studies), Professor Greg Slabaugh (Director Digital Environment Research Institute), Dr Mark Freestone (Wolfson Institute of Population Health) and Dr Janelle Jones  (School of Biological and Behavioural Sciences).

Professor Julia Hörnle is a leading expert in the law and regulation of online gambling, and has published widely in the field, including a book and work on the regulation of marketing and consumer protection; in 2019 she completed a major study on effective enforcement of gambling law for the European Commission which led to major research impact, including invited evidence to the House of Lords Select Committee on the Social and Economic Impact of Gambling.

Professor Greg Slabaugh brings expertise in machine learning and AI with application to gambling.  His prior work funded by the EPSRC and Innovate UK investigated machine learning methods for detection of risky gambling behaviour leading to self-harm.  His work also explored accuracy vs interpretability trade-offs to help explain to a user why their gambling may be unsafe.  This work was commercialised in BetBuddy’s product (now part of PlayTech) for responsible gambling. 

Dr Mark Freestone is Reader in Mental Health in the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry and brings an understanding of the public health implications of gambling and the causal frameworks behind negative outcomes such as deliberate self-harm and violent victimisation. He is a fellow of the Alan Turing Institute and a member of the Expert Advisory Group for the London Vanguard project, which aims to improve mental health and reduce involvement in violence among young people in London.

Dr Janelle Jones’ work examines the implications of group memberships, and their related identities, for behaviour, health, and well-being. Applied to gambling, this work can provide critical insights into the gambler identity and its impacts on social connections, gambling participation and harms, and well-being. Jones currently has funding from GambleAware to support two PhD studentships on this, and related, topics.

The multi-disciplinary Research Hub contact details
PI, Professor Julia Hörnle -
Professor Greg Slabaugh -
Dr Mark Freestone -
Dr Janelle Jones -

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