After the UK-based online gambling operator 888 was fined the record amount of £7.8m for failing to help players with gambling problems, a scandalous revelation came under the spotlight. An investigation dug out a scheme, which is utilized by online gaming operators to target vulnerable players.
It emerged on the surface that some online casino operators are resorting to different methods in order to keep gambling addicts coming back. This goes against the laws of every country, as all online operators are required to assist and prevent players from any possible gambling addictions, no matter which market they are targeting.
888 on the Wrong Side of the Law
Yesterday, 31st August, the UK-enlisted online gaming company 888 was slapped on the wrist by the UK gambling regulator – the UK Gambling Commission. After a detailed investigation conducted by the UK Gambling Commission, it appeared that the online operator kept on providing access to the accounts of players, who subscribed in 888’s self-exclusion scheme. It should be noted that the self-exclusion option is offered by all websites and it is recommended for players, who are vulnerable to gambling problems.
It was explained that 888’s failure is due to a technical problem, which was not detected on time. However, it appeared that some online casino operators are assisted by third parties to efficiently target vulnerable players. The Guardian reported that those third parties collected the users’ personal data, providing a good advertising channel to the online operators. The targeted people are in most of the cases either former gamblers, who stopped playing or people with financial difficulties.
In an interview, a former digital marketer also involved in a similar unlawful scheme shared that the third-party companies provided data, which allowed the online operators to target people via their emails, bombarding them with various advertisements. What is more is that the companies also collected personal information such as age, loans, income, insurance and etc. Based on that “knowledge”, the online operators adapted various ads to the different potential “clients”.
How the Companies Pick Up the Users’ Personal Data?
The data theft is performed via an established model. The third-party companies gather the users’ personal information from different sites, which offer some prizes, the so-called raffle sites. These usually require users to provide certain personal information, including age, name, email and others in order to participate in the prize draws. After that, these raffle sites can sell the users’ data to another website.
The collaboration between online operators and the third-party companies is also known as betting affiliate program. The “seller” is paid a certain percentage of the lost money of every user, which was attracted. The recent revelations invoke the need for an immediate reaction and stricter measures to weed out the aforementioned scheme, which exacerbates gamblers’ addiction.