UK Gambling Commission considering ban on VIP "schemes"

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by , 27 January 2020 at 2:40 pm (709 Views)
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More mainstream media coverage of "problem gambling" this week as The Guardian reports that the UKGC is considering whether to ban VIP schemes in Britain "after collecting data from betting firms, including one that took 83% of all deposits from 2% of its customers."

From the article:

The dependence of the UK gambling industry on high-spending VIPs, customers who are disproportionately likely to be addicts, has been laid bare in a secret report obtained by the Guardian.

The report, which has emerged as the government prepares to review gambling legislation, reveals for the first time the extent to which the industry relies on VIP schemes.

The much-criticised membership programmes reward gamblers who habitually lose large sums of money with perks such as free bets, cashback on losing wagers or football tickets.

The award of VIP status has been cited as a factor in seven out of 10 regulatory penalties issued to companies by the commission for failures to prevent problem gambling.

A Gambling Commission spokesman said it was already taking action to address poor practice linked to VIP programmes but was prepared to go further.

The regulator 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 behaviour does not change.”

The commission collected data on VIP schemes from nine companies that have been granted anonymity but are understood to be among the UK’s largest and best known. In one case, an operator told the commission that while only 2% of its customers are VIPs, they account for 83% of deposits made on the site.

One of its rivals took 58% of its betting account deposits from a VIP cohort that made up 5% of its customer base, while a third accepted 48% of deposits from 3% of customers. The data suggests that if the regulator bans VIP schemes, the decision could deal a huge blow to the industry’s revenues.
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