The United Kingdom’s Gambling Commission (UKGC), despite being known as one of the most active regulators in the industry, has come under fire following the infiltration of bet365’s employee training centre by a Daily Mail journalist.
The expose reveals bet365 awarding “big losers” weekly cash returns of up to 10 percent to keep vulnerable customers locked in a cycle of betting with further reportage detailing bet365’s cash back and VIP perk culture after the reporter spent three weeks in the gambling firm’s “high security” customer service training centre in Gibraltar.
Following widespread comments from MP’s and anti-problem gambling campaigners on the article, the UKGC was branded “toothless”and accused of being “outpaced by smartphones offering 24/7 access to gambling websites.”
Readers will recall the UKGC previously identified incentives and VIP schemes as an area of risk, one which it plans to investigate amid other numerous consultations, and more often than not, subsequent amendments to social responsibility, anti-money laundering procedures, know your customer measures, customer interactions, the implementation of gambling blocking software and advertising regulations, among other areas.
Labour MP Carolyn Harris, chairman of the all-party parliamentary group on gambling, reportedly commented: “I’m always surprised by how easy it is for the bookmakers to offer incentives to vulnerable people. It is exploitation. This is an immoral industry preying on people at their lowest ebb. [The UKGC] seems more interested in being everybody’s friend.”
Harris described the UKGC’s enforcement as “lax”, saying it had created “a wild west world of online gaming flourishing under a toothless regulator”.
A response published in the report from bet365 reads:
“Bet365 prides itself on providing a safe environment for its customers and goes above and beyond its legal and regulatory requirements to do so, including those set out in the Gambling Commission Licence Conditions and Codes of Practice and we fully refute any allegation or suggestion to the contrary.
“Bet365 is at the forefront of various industry initiatives to further promote and develop, safer gambling practices, including its participation in gambling treatment provider Gamcare’s social responsibility quality trademark scheme, the Safer Gambling Standard.
‘As the LCCP makes clear, operators in the gambling industry are entitled to reward their loyal customers provided they do so in a socially responsible way, as Bet365 does.
‘Bet365 takes specific and extensive actions to identify, monitor and assist customers who may be at risk of experiencing gambling-related harm, including by way of the suppressing of marketing material to any such customers and ensuring they are not inappropriately incentivised to intensify their gambling.”
Read the full article here.