Betting firms investigated for harassing texts

Online gambling firms have been accused of illegally texting and emailing people, sparking official investigations into their activities.

The Information Commissioners Office (ICO) has launched an investigation amid allegations that some firms are targeting gamblers with unsolicited texts and emails.

These encourage people to bet by offering deals and promotions.

Personal details

The ICO has demanded details of how gambling firms target people with spam texts.

It is trying to establish how the accused companies obtained people’s personal details and how many texts they have sent.

Firms targeting people without obtaining permission are acting illegally and are liable to fines of up to £500,000.

Deliberately misleading

The Competition & Markets Authority (CMA) has launched a separate investigation into concerns that companies are misleading gamblers with small print allowing the firms to avoid paying out.

The group’s Senior Director for Consumer Enforcement, Nisha Arora, accused gambling sites of deliberately making it too difficult for gamblers to “understand the terms on which they’re playing”.

“We are now investigating to see whether firms are breaking the law”, she said.


The You and Yours programme on BBC Radio 4 also revealed that bookies may be targeting gambling addicts even after they have closed their accounts.

Presenter Winifred Robinson spoke to a former gambling addict who was targeted by online firm Unibet even after he had imposed a ‘self-exclusion’.

All gambling websites are required to allow users to ban themselves permanently at their request.

In the interview, he explained how he banned himself from the Unibet website, but was contacted ten days later with a tempting offer of a bonus if he returned to the website.

‘Clear breach’

He took the offer and went on to deposit thousands of pounds with the firm over the next three weeks, losing it all.

He said that several companies still contact him after his self-exclusions from their websites, including some of the bigger companies.

Professor Jim Orford, a founder of Gambling Watch UK, said that targeting self-excluded gamblers was a ‘clear breach of the rules’.

He also highlighted that gambling firms are not in favour of self-exclusion: “The truth of the matter is that some of the people who want to self-exclude are the operators’ best customers and their most profitable customers,” he said.

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