- The Guardian obtains a report showing over-reliance by betting companies in the UK on VIP customers
- UK Gambling Commission promises tougher measures on the segment
- In some cases, 83% of all bets came from 2% of the player base
New evidence has surfaced that the UK gambling industry may be over-reliant on problem gamblers, The Guardian wrote citing a report obtained by the newspaper. High-spending VIP customers were the drivers of economic and financial results for companies, the newspaper reported.
More specifically, The Guardian argued that the likelihood of VIP customers being addicts was bigger than that of regular and casual players. In fact, VIP schemes brought in 83% of the deposits, from just 2% of the player base on at least one occasion.
VIP Programs and the Root of All Evil
The report obtained by the newspaper focused on criticizing the methods used by gambling companies to incentivize players into playing. A reward VIP program was designed from head-to-toe to provide players with various incentives, such as free bets, cash backs, and even football tickets.
Stepping into the discussion, the UK Gambling Commission said that measures have been taken to address the issue and correlation between addiction and high incidence of gambling addiction. Specifically, a spokesperson for the Commission had this to say:
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 consumers and we will be even tougher if behavior does not change.
The worst case was that of a company which collected 83% of all its deposits from 2% of the customer base. Meanwhile, there were other worrying examples, such as another company that accumulated 58% of all deposits through 5% of its customer base.
A third company scooped up some 48% of all deposits from just 3% of its members, pointing to a growing inadequacy between existing regulatory measures and how VIP customers are protected. With some 47,000 VIP customers in the United Kingdom, at least 8% of them are already gambling addicts, the Commission said.
We Have the Means to Fight Gambling Addiction
One section of the report said that gambling firms are already aware of which customers are more likely to play and spend more, thanks to advanced algorithms. However, there has been no real effort to offer help to individuals who are likely to also be developing a gambling addiction.
However, the Commission has not been without a response on the issue. Several suggestions have been put forward on how to police the VIP segment better so as to avoid gambling addiction. One measure in the report reads that operators must come under more pressure.
Another says that an “industry-wide VIP code of conduct” must be put into place. A third goes even further, suggesting to altogether ban the VIP segment. Similar moves have been undertaken in Sweden where the country’s regulator, the Spelinspektionen, has shown zero policy for gambling products that incentivize further play.
Labor MP Carolyn Harris has gone even further to say: “This report shows how completely reliant the industry is on people with gambling problems and that they are profiteering from them. “ VIP players are indeed the segment that all companies are trying to retain and keep playing the most.