Beginning last Monday, HSBC clients in Malta are no longer able to use their accounts and credit cards for betting- and gambling-related transactions.
The bank's decision was initially reported by Malta's leading newspaper Malta Independent on Sunday, right after many complained that they were denied transactions to betting websites.
Talking to the newspaper, one customer from Malta's HSBC explained that "I’ve been betting on the Internet with William Hill for over a year, but for the past 10 days I've been unable to deposit funds using my HSBC credit card."
The person also complained not to have received any communication from the bank nor very exhaustive explanations from HSBC's customer service, as only one of the three representatives he contacted seemed to be aware of the issue.
HSBC Group Public Affairs Manager David Hall explained that the measure is part of a wider package adopted by the bank one year ago to fight the use of credit cards for illegal gambling. According to Hall, the bank did not send any specific communication or warning to either its customers or to the media because "if you have a legal site and you put out a notice saying you will not allow transactions involving an illegal site, it would be perverse."
Speaking to PokerNews, a representative from the HSBC main office in London explained that "the measure has been currently adopted only in Malta," and should therefore not affect the bank's clients out of the Mediterranean island.
HSBC's decision to stop gambling transactions aroused criticism in Malta, especially after the country's national television station TVM reported that several agents from Maltco, the company that operates all national lotteries and additional games in Malta, have been "advised" by their employer to stop using HSBC by the end of May.
However, when reached by PokerNews, Maltco PR and Corporate Communication Manager Erica Micallef denied the allegations and explained that "the agents had to change the banks without us asking them. No specific suggestions were made from our side."
In regards to HSBC's new policy, Micallef said that "Maltco is not really affected by this".
Photo courtesy of The Guardian