It’s been quite the tumultuous time for the United Kingdom recently, with the decision of the country to leave the European Union, the chaos that ensued afterwards with trying to get a deal sorted, the changing of the Prime Minister and then another election taking place. Yet, it’s not only the political world that has been a problem on the British Isles, but the gambling scene as well.
As 2020 rolled into full force, it didn’t take long for the Government to criticise casino operators and their respective VIP programs. It was reported on Thursday, January 2 that The Guardian had in fact received what was labelled as a “classified” study, carried out by the United Kingdom Gambling Commission, in relation to VIP gaming services by online gambling licensees. That study, which The Guardian said it had collected via a request for freedom of information, took information from nine betting companies, all of which were unnamed but provide both online and retail betting in the country.
It was The Guardian that chose to place a prime focus on two separate areas of the report, though:
- VIPs Being Responsible for a Disproportionate Amount of Deposits
- VIPs Being Over-Represented in the Ranks of Problem Gamblers
According to the details acquired by the media company, there was one operator within the report that supposedly received 83% of its total deposits from just a 2% share of its entire customer base. Another took 58% of all its deposits from a 5% share of its customers, while a third provided the information that just 3% of users were responsible for 48% of its deposits.
While those details do seem to be quite outrightly shocking initially, The Guardian did not make any mention of whether those same deposits ended up being withdrawn prior to being lost, or if the VIPs using those funds were actually responsible for winning wagers.
Thousands of VIP Gamblers in the UK
As part of the same report, The Guardian revealed the information that the Gambling Commission estimates that the UK is home to around 47,000 VIP players, and at the same time, about 8% of those are thought to be problem gamblers. To correlate with that, the Commission recently did a study of gambling activity in the country, which revealed that there is a national problem gambling rate of around 0.7% altogether.
Speaking about its findings, the Gambling Commission spoke with The Guardian, saying that it had actually “challenged the industry” as far as increasing its progress towards improvements regarding how customers are handled. This, the Commission said, did have a prime focus on casino high-rollers.
The Commission has also spoken on several occasions of having no problem with taking strict authoritative action against any operator who doesn’t put the effort into protecting their consumers. The regulatory body is supposedly employing multiple different methods to try and urge operators to alter their ways of skirting around the rules, and this could indeed include the possibility of them being banned from providing VIP services to their clients.
It has also looked into less dramatic actions as well, such as the decision to research how such companies are promoting their VIP program managers and creating a new industry-wide code of conduct that specifically relates to VIP players. Furthermore, restrictions could be brought into effect on the sort of benefits that VIP gamers are able to receive from online casinos. Whatever the case may be, action is being undertaken by the Commission in a bid to straighten out the gambling industry on the whole, with VIP programs being a prime target.
The Government Looks to Amend Gambling Act
Prior to the December election in the United Kingdom, it was part of several parties’ manifestos to take action where gambling in the country is concerned. One or two suggested that they would amend the 2005 Gambling Act, which has been labelled as “too analogue” for today’s more digital age to adhere to properly.
With Boris Johnson and his Conservative party now firmly in the prime position in the UK, time will tell whether or not he follows through on promises to suitably amend the Act. If this takes place, it could end up following through with a complete banning of credit card use for online gambling purposes. Not only that, but loot boxes in video games, which have been the subject of much discussion recently, will likely be targeted alongside. The inclusion of VIP programs into the future plans for the Government seems to be something else that is likely to change in one way or another.
One only needs to look to Finland and the PAF platform’s 2018 decision on VIP players. At the time, the platform pledged to reduce its reliance on those gamers, and it followed through by introducing a strict fixed annual loss limit. Granted, that did affect the sales figures of the PAF casino, but that did not stop the brand from saying that it aims to have “no big players” left on its customer database, something that it has marked out as its ultimate goal. Perhaps the United Kingdom will follow suit with something similar?