Gambling Commission Promises Action Over Newspaper VIP Exposé
The UK’s gambling regulator has promised to take “even tougher” action against online bookmakers who fail to protect players. The UKGC comments came in response to a newspaper report which examined the level of spending by the operator’s high-value accounts.
The Guardian newspaper submitted a freedom of information request to the Gambling Commission asking the regulator to provide information on the operators VIP accounts. The regulator complied with the application by producing a report using figures supplied from the bookmakers.
The report showed a high reliance by operators on revenue from a small number of accounts with one bookmaker disclosing that 83% of all deposits were made by just 2% of their customer base.
The UKGC released a statement along with the report stating that the commission had been taking action against operators who displayed “poor-practice” when dealing with VIP customers but promised to do more to address the matter. The statement added;
We have also taken robust action against operators who fail to protect consumers and we will be even tougher if behaviour does not change.– Gambling Commission statement.
The report, which used data from nine bookmakers, revealed that while a couple of the operators VIP customers accounted for less than 5% of deposits, this was the exception rather than the norm. Five operators had deposit levels of over 30%, with the highest having a figure of 83%.
The issue of enforcing responsible gambling measures on high-value customers has become an increasing problem for the industry with increasing pressure on operators to prove they are actively monitoring and intervening when customer’s betting behaviour is a cause of concern.
William Hill’s managing director Phil Walker announced last year that the company had closed 30% of its VIP accounts during the previous 12 months. Speaking at an All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) meeting on gambling-related harm, the MD was joined by Sky Betting & Gaming CEO Ian Proctor, bet365 co-CEO John Coates, Flutter Entertainment Europe CEO Dan Taylor and Tombola CEO Phil Cronin in answering questions from MP’s who included former Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith.
However, not everyone in the industry agrees with the reporting of the Guardian article and dispute some of the key findings. Regulus Partners, who are strategy and financial analysis experts who specialise in the iGaming sector report they have “three issues with the mainstream reporting of the data expose and how it is being positioned from a policy perspective”.
On their website, Regulus Partners state that there is a significant discrepancy between the Guardian’s graph and the text commentary. Due to these conflicting data values, the company believe there is an issue of data integrity. Regulus also argue that it shouldn’t be a surprise that the majority of deposits come from a small number of accounts, with Regulus pointing to the fact that In the UK, the top 3% of earners represent 12.5% of total earned income; therefore this is expected the partners argue.
Regulus Partners also questioned how the Guardian newspaper knew to ask for this ‘secret report’ from the Gambling Commission and accused the expose of being a “mixture of sensationalism, selective disclosure (deliberately or just editorially) and data discrepancies”. You can read the full article on the Regulus Partners website.