The betting industry is explicitly targeting people on lower incomes and ex-gamblers, it has emerged.
An investigation by The Guardian has revealed that third-party data providers are used to collect information on the age, income, and credit card details of customers which is then passed on to online bookmakers.
An anonymous source told the newspaper: “I fear that bookmakers are wilfully turning a blind eye to this practice and allowing such affiliates to promote their services in this manner.”
‘Exploiting the vulnerable’
Betting sites were found to be encouraging customers on lower incomes to start gambling and former gamblers to start betting again. Some of these customers were offered ‘free’ bets as part of the marketing campaign.
Carolyn Harris MP, chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Fixed-Odds Betting Terminals, said the news did not surprise her:
“It just reaffirms my belief that the betting industry has no moral compass and are capable of exploiting the vulnerable in order to obtain the last pound out of them.”
Justyn Rees Larcombe, of EPIC Risk Management, said it was a method that led him to losing his house, family and job.
The former gambling addict said he would get an email offering a “£50 free bet” and convince himself that it wasn’t really gambling as it was free, saying “offers like that would lure me back in”.
He added that gambling companies should “help those who are addicted” so they can “have a way to get out”.
Last week, it was announced that an online bookmaker was hit with a record fine of nearly £8 million after it failed to block users who wanted to stop gambling.
888 UK Limited allowed 7,000 customers to continue gambling on online bingo, despite having voluntarily banned themselves from other betting platforms.
It also failed to recognise the troubling signs of one customer who staked over £1 million over a 13 month period.
The Gambling Commission fined the company around £7.8 million for the two errors.