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  • Report
  • 18th Dec 2023

Can spending limits in a banking app support safer gambling?

Results from an online lab experiment

In this report, BIT’s Gambling Policy & Research Unit presents findings from a study which measured the impact of different designs of spending limits on gambling behaviour. We found that spending limits are a promising preventative tool which could help customers manage their gambling spend.

We designed and tested four different versions of interactive spending limit tools (see below), via an online randomised control trial (RCT) with 6,049 people who gamble in the UK. Participants were either exposed to just the gambling block  or one of the four versions of the spending limit tool and were then asked to interact with the tool as they would in real life. 

Our key findings included:

  • Offering a spending limit in addition to a block increased gambling management tool use amongst those who experience no to a low risk of gambling related harm. 
  • 3 in 4 participants would like to see their banks introducing such tools. 
  • There might be a risk of spending limits backfiring for at-risk groups – introducing the tool could lead to those experiencing moderate or higher levels of gambling harm setting a limit rather than a block.
  • Individuals set lower limits on average if they are presented with a low default amount.
  • Comprehension and usability of the spending limit tool was lower than the gambling block. 

Spending limits are a promising preventative tool which could help customers manage their gambling spend. However, we need to consider and test where the tool would be best placed within banking apps to maximise uptake and how to offer different tools to bank customers in such a way that minimises gambling harm of those at higher risk. 

As a next step, we are hoping to trial spending limits in the ‘real world’ with a bank, to further refine the designs and test the impact on actual financial and gambling behaviour. Please do get in touch at if you would like to discuss this further!

The GPRU would like to express thanks to the following individuals and organisations who informed our spending limit tool designs and supported us during this project:

Aisling Ní Chonaire

Esther Hadman


The GamCare Lived Experience Community

The Money and Mental Health Policy Institute

Dr Naomi Muggleton

Professor Sharon Collard, University of Bristol

The Co-operative Bank 

Nationwide Building Society 

Danske Bank

Santander Bank

Lloyds Banking Group

TSB Bank

Download the report