A report that has been just recently published by the Behavioural Insights Team (BIT) has revealed quite some failures of the UK gambling operators to protect the safety and well-being of their customers.
As revealed by the UK social purpose organisation, which is also known as the “Nudge Unit”, its Gambling Policy and Research Unit (GPRU) held comprehensive checks of 10 of the British leading gambling operators: Betfred, 888 Holdings, Paddy Power, Betfair, William Hill, Ladbrokes, Coral, Skybet, Betway and Tombola. The audits, which were held between March and April 2022, have found a large number of examples in the design and operation of the companies’ online gambling platforms in which the companies put their customers at risk and also failed to protect the users the way they are supposed to.
The GPRU study unveiled several areas of concern that include the ease of opening customer accounts compared to closing them; lack of receipts for transactions; lack of summaries about the money and time spent by customers on the gambling platform, as well as a requirement for a minimum account balance in order for a withdrawal to be made.
Furthermore, the study unveiled claims of age verification procedures, popularity and scarcity that were aimed at encouraging consequent and rapid gambling. The GPRU of the Behavioural Insights Team also found that some online gambling websites lacked adequate age verification procedures, and encouraged users to gamble repeatedly. Some operators also did not provide any information on the customer losses during gameplay.
Findings Tools to Control Their Gambling Is “Strikingly Hard” for UK Gambling Companies’ Users
The Gambling Policy and Research Unit was established by the BIT in September 2021 to develop and test various methods to reduce gambling-related harm.
The report issued by the BIT showed that design features available on gambling websites and platforms can really affect the consumer decision-making process. Online environments often require their customers to process large amounts of data before making quick decisions, which could affect their decisions and put them at risk of harm.
David Halpern, who is the CEO of BIT and the Steering Group chair of GPRU, explained that the overall message that the majority of gambling companies send to their customers says that their online betting platforms are easy to gain access to, bet and keep gambling. Unfortunately, it is “strikingly harder” for customers to find the necessary tools to set reasonable betting limits, monitor their gambling losses, withdraw their winnings or simply end their registration.
Mr Halpern further noted that it is possible for gambling companies to design their websites in a way that would provide tools that would make a difference for their customers. Such tools could make it possible for users to limit the potential gambling-related harm but, unfortunately, the audit held by the Behavioural Insights Team showed that such a step did not seem to be the priority of local gambling giants.
The audit carried out by the BIT aimed at exploring various methods to reduce gambling harm. In its report, the body revealed that it plans to develop policy recommendations for UK gambling companies and suggest alternative designs for their online gambling platforms in order to ensure better customer protection.
Olivia Cole has worked as a journalist for several years now. Over the last couple of years she has been engaged in writing about a number of industries and has developed an interest for the gambling market in the UK.