Monday, 6 January 2020

UK Gambling Commission May Ban VIP Programmes, Says New Report

Gambling Addiction

The UK Gambling Commission is considering a ban on casino VIP programmes.

The British gambling regulator announced the news after the Guardian obtained data from the Commission which revealed that many bookmakers operating in the UK rely heavily on VIP customers. These VIP schemes reward customers who play frequently and deposit large amounts, and the rewards often include free bonuses, bets, cashback bonuses and prizes.

According to the Guardian, the Gambling Commission collected data from nine unnamed casino operators and found that one operator that its VIP customers, which account to just 2% of all those registered at the site, make up over 80% of the firm’s deposits.

A rival of the operator’s revealed that 58% of its deposits were made by VIP customers which makes up only 5% of its total customers. A third casino operator explained that 48% of its deposits were made by its VIP players, around 3% of its total number of customers.

What’s more, the figures obtained from the Guardian revealed that VIP customers are more likely to be addicts compared to ordinary gamers. The Commission has estimated that there are 47,000 VIP customers in the UK and around 8% of them are thought to be problem gamblers.

A spokesperson for the UK Gambling Commission told the Guardian that it was already working on the issue by taking action to address the heavy reliance on VIP customers but said the Commission is willing to go further, saying:

“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 customers and we will be even tougher if behaviour does not change.”

What They Say

Brigid Simmonds, the Chairman of the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC), told the Guardian: “Our industry recognises the need to change practices in this area and we will soon publish the terms of a review for a new industry code of conduct. We intend to consult widely on the shape of this new code, to ensure we are always putting the welfare of our customer first.”

Labour MP Carolyn Harris, who chairmans a cross-party Parliamentary group on gambling, added: “This report shows how completely reliant the industry is on people with gambling problems and that they are profiteering from them. As the Gambling Commission has itself suggested these practices should be banned to protect problem gamblers and stop the transfer of money from vulnerable addicted gamblers directly into the pockets of the online gambling industry.”

Soon after the publication of the report last Thursday (January 2nd), gambling firm shares dropped on Friday (January 3rd). Similarly, gambling firm shares dropped last November after the Guardian revealed that Carolyn Harris’ group of cross-party MPs urged the  UK government to introduce a maximum betting limit on online slot games.

It was revealed that a maximum £2 bet limit would severely impact an online casino’s income and devastate the online casino industry. The announcement led some of the UK’s top gambling firms to announce their commitment to five responsible gambling measures as part of an effort to prevent the government from imposing its own stricter regulations.