Trade group the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has announced that UK charity GAMSTOP will operate a highly anticipated single customer view (SCV) trial.
The trial is a new scheme aimed at allowing operators to share data on players deemed to be most at risk of gambling harm.
Members of the industry will access the shared data to identify and protect at-risk players through additional safeguards or even bans, meaning those who have exhibited signs of severe problem gambling cannot just move to another operator without appropriate interventions, the trade group said.
Wes Himes, the BGC’s executive director for standards and innovation, said it was clear GAMSTOP “stood out” from a list of “many” companies that put forward proposals for the SCV system.
“They are uniquely placed as they currently operate the online gambling self-exclusion scheme, which has helped more than 250,000 people over the last five years,” Himes said.
Integral to the trial is the fact no personal data rights should be infringed on, as the BGC pointed out “the overwhelming majority” of people who bet do not want their data shared in a national database.
The BGC said the SCV trial was delayed for nearly two years due to data sharing concerns raised by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), but the trial should be ready by the end of March.
A strict code of conduct and controls around how operators should engage with these customers and how this information can be used will govern the trial scheme in order to help address these data-sharing concerns, according to the BGC.
BGC chair Brigid Simmonds said on social media its members will invest more than a million pounds in the trial.
The Data Protection Act 2018 and the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) have been cited by operators as preventing them from sharing data in a manner proposed by the Gambling Commission, which is pushing for an SCV system.
However, the ICO has said these laws should not be seen as barriers, but instead frameworks to ensure personal data is shared in a “fair, lawful and proportionate” manner.
All gambling operators already routinely share their customers' data to a third party to meet their anti-money laundering (AML) and fraud prevention obligations, according to the ICO’s response to recommendations by the House of Lords Gambling Industry Select Committee in 2021.
“Data sharing to protect their customers from harm should therefore not be a lower priority, nor more controversial, than fraud prevention measures,” the ICO said.
A report released in January 2022 by Cracked Labs and commissioned by Clean Up Gambling revealed data practices already in use by online gambling operators.
The report covers the web of third-party companies that receive data on consumers, often without their knowledge.
The data is used to form profiles on consumers, including indicators of personal vulnerability and addictive behaviours, which Clean Up Gambling claims “can then be used to target the most vulnerable”.
A limited browsing of 37 gambling websites run by operator Sky Betting and Gaming resulted in 2,154 data transmissions to 83 domains controlled by 44 different companies, including Facebook and Google.
Matt Zarb-Cousin, director of Clean Up Gambling, warned the use of data is “far more intrusive than any proposed customer affordability checks”.
“Given so much data exists that could be used by operators to reduce harm, but is instead abused to advance commercial objectives, it is unfathomable that the Gambling Commission is allowing the BGC, of which Sky Bet is a member and funder, to lead on creating and controlling the ‘single customer view’ as a means for enforcing affordability controls,” Zarb-Cousin said.