GB: Massive data protection infringement by online casino?
Several British gambling providers are currently being accused of a massive data abuse. The providers who are involved seem to have passed on the data of quite a number of users to third parties. They wanted to win back players with problematic gambling behaviour. The British Data Protection Authority is now investigating this issue.
The campaign group Clean Up Gambling has made a public complain against several gambling providers from Great Britain. The accusation is quite serious. A massive data abuse. According to them, one of these providers, namely Sky Bet, created behaviour profiles of its users. These profiles were then used either by the provider itself for marketing purposes or even sold to third parties. A few weeks ago we had reported about a study, which states that slot machine players from Great Britain spend on average 300 GBP yearly on gambling.
British Data Protection Authority is investigating this allegation
The Organisation Clean Up Gambling complained about this issue and the British Data Protection Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is now involved in the case. In its complaint the organisation refers to a study of Wolfie Christl. The latter is a Data Protection expert and researcher from Austria. In his study, which was published some months ago, Christl concluded that in several cases gambling providers such as Sky Bet collect the data of users and also pass them on to third parties.
The Organisation Clean Up Gambling is now requesting that all online casinos are well monitored. The same goes for the advertising partners who work with them. At no time did the users give their consent to the collection of the sensitive information and for it to be distributed to third parties In May of this year we had reported that Gambling advertisments with celebrities is now forbidden in Great Britain.
Were problem players specifically targeted?
Normally all gambling providers should be interested in seeing that all users play responsibly on their platform and do not ruin themselves financially. However, the massive data abuse could have also lead the providers to specifically target players with problematic gambling behaviour with their adverts.
At the end of the day the user profiles, which were created in an automated manner, contained information about player speed, the amount of the stakes, as well as the times during which a player played. According to the Data Protection expert this data is suitable to specifically target the so-called problematic players with advertisements. At the end of last year we had reported about the allegation that a British online casino seems to have specifically targeted problem players with bonuses.
The British Data Protection Authority is at present still investigating the allegations, which primarily involve the provider Sky Bet. The Organisation Clean Up Gambling is however worried that many other gambling providers are also infringing the data protection rules in the same way. The parent company of Sky Bet, Flutter, has meanwhile stated that it disclaims all the allegations and that it is careful to fully comply with all the regulations. Speaking to The Financial Times the company stated that data protection is a high priority for the company. We are therefore excited to see the results of the ongoing investigations by the British Authorities.
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