After a report shows British gaming companies may use rewards to lure customers who are highly probable to become addicted, the United Kingdom’s Gambling Commission is pondering whether it should ban “VIP” programs.
On Thursday, British newspaper The Guardian posted an article which disclosed using Commission data, to what extent companies depend on VIPs, an acronym for Very Important People or customers. Those are folks who bet significant sums, and companies may offer gifts like free bets or other incentives to keep them in the fold.
From just two percent of its patrons, one betting organization received 83 percent of its deposits. From just five percent of its customers, another got 58 percent of its deposits, while from three percent of its players, another took in 48 percent of its deposits.
The Guardian was informed by a Commission spokesperson that the regulatory body was eager to take a tough stance to protect consumers.
The Commission’s spokesperson said,
“Operators must improve their interaction with VIPs, and we have challenged the industry to make faster progress to improve how they manage their customers. We have also taken robust action against operators who fail to protect consumers, and we will be even tougher if behavior does not change.”
It was reported in October, that Ladbrokes reached an agreement following one of its VIPs stealing money from his clients and business partner. In return for their agreement not to report the case to the Commission, Ladbrokes paid almost £1 million ($1.3 million) to the victims of Tony Parente, co-owner of a real estate company.
As reported by casino.org, the Commission thinks the gaming companies have around 47,000 VIP customers. Eight percent, or around 3,760 of those, are considered to have a gambling problem.
Possibility of a New Gaming Bill
The report is motivating lawmakers across the pond to insist on changes. That could include a renewal of the 15-year-old Gambling Act, which is the legislation that resulted in the Commission’s creation.
MP Carolyn Harris, a Labour Party member in the House of Commons, tweeted,
“The sooner, the better, and reform has cross-party support. All the officers of @GRHAPPG(Gambling Related Harm All-Party Parliamentary Group) – MP @ronniecowan (Scottish National Party) and @MPIainDS (Iain Duncan Smith, a Conservative MP) and myself are acutely aware of this problem and ready to make sure we get a fit-for-purpose Gambling Act.”
The Guardian was told by a spokeswoman for the British-based trade group Betting and Gaming Council, that the industry understands it needs to change its practices, and will release a code of conduct soon to ensure customer’s best interests are considered first.
Commission Asks For Better Customer Interaction
The Gambling Commission posted a video on Thursday, on its site describing how gaming companies must interact now with customers who have the chance to become problem gamblers.
The Commission outlines in it, that gaming companies have to look beyond just the amount of money and time a person spends gaming. All operators, including online casinos, sportsbooks, gaming halls, and bingo parlors, have to abide by the regulation.
The Commission’s narrator said in the video,
“Operators should tailor what they do to fit their circumstances, but compliance is not optional.”