- Bet365 stands accused of paying weekly cash rebates of up to 10% to feed losers’ gambling interest
- Daily Mail reporter undertook a three-week investigation by training for the betting company in Gibraltar
- VIP status, cashback rewards and football tickets all used as incentives to lure in customers
- MPs and campaigners call for action to be taken on updating gambling laws
A reporter who spent three weeks under cover training with Bet365 in Gibraltar has uncovered questionable tactics uncovered such as 10% cashbacks, VIP status rewards, football tickets up for grabs and the chance to be treated like a celebrity on the day, which could be used by discretion to keep customers spending.
It the allegations are proven true, understandably it could raise concerns about how gambling operators continue to target the vulnerable.
The investigation raises serious concerns as to the company’s dealings, only lauded earlier this month for a successful top team in the UK and its commitment to paying tax.
Although campaigners have been at the door of gambling operators for years, after this investigation MPs are also hopping on board and having a say about a potential shake-up to gambling laws in the UK
Cash rebates for losers
Since the allegations, Bet365 has come under fire for dealing out weekly rebates to losers. This practice is not illegal. The UK Gambling Commission regulates rules on the cap for rebates, but claims they should be “socially responsible”.
Campaigners are worried about the incentive as it encourage people who aren’t financially buoyant to delve into the lucrative betting industry.
In their report in the Daily Mail, the journalist revealed alleged guidelines on such schemes that are given when Bet365 train their staff. Currently, a strategy called “reward loyalty” is in place as an incentive for higher-spending customers, who can receive weekly rebates on their losses. The reporter was allegedly told that a VIP who spent £15,000 ($19,395) a week on the betting site would be given a weekly rebate of £1,500 ($1,940) – so up to 10%.
If a player reaches a “net loss threshold”, they then move into additional territories where chances to win experiences such as tickets for the FA Cup Final and the Irish Open allegedly become an option. In terms of customer service the VIPs are then also treated as celebrities by their allocated devoted advisor.
For those betting smaller amounts, junior staff are allegedly allowed to reward anyone who rings the Bet365 customers service line with a £50 cash bonus ($65) and free casino spins at their discretion.
Legal side of betting in the UK
While these practices can be seen as unethical, at the moment they are not illegal. Something the betting industry wells know. Richard Williams, a gambling lawyer, stated: “There is no legal cap on the amount a customer can be given back. I’ve heard of rebates of up to 25%. Rates of 10% don’t sound unusual.”
Other lawyers with experience in the field have stated that the regulations are “vague and unspecific” and in need of a shake-up.
MPs have gotten behind the Daily Mail’s investigation and commended them on outing “a wild west world of online gambling.” As the UK gambling laws are being put under a magnifying glass, Duncan Smith, vice-chairman of the all-party parliamentary group on gambling (APPG), gave the following statement: “Make no mistake – giving gamblers money to keep losing will turn them into addicts as sure as night follows day.”
Chairman of the APPG, Carolyn Harris, said: “Bet365 appears to be deliberately preying on vulnerable people and encouraging customers to rack up huge losses to boost its own profits.”
Campaigners have claimed that the number of people who take their own lives as a direct result of their gambling addiction has reached two people per working day. There are 480,000 gambling addicts in the UK dubbed at a “serious”’ level, with another 2m at risk. The gambling industry currently makes a £683.4m annual profit for operators.
Bet365 has responded to the newspaper report, saying: “Bet365 prides itself on providing a safe environment for its customers and goes above and beyond its legal and regulatory requirements to do so, including those set out in the Gambling Commission Licence Conditions and Codes of Practice and we fully refute any allegation or suggestion to the contrary.
“Bet365 is at the forefront of various industry initiatives to further promote and develop safer gambling practices, including its participation in gambling treatment provider Gamcare’s social responsibility quality trademark scheme, the Safer Gambling Standard.
“As the LCCP makes clear, operators in the gambling industry are entitled to reward their loyal customers provided they do so in a socially responsible way, as Bet365 does.
“Bet365 takes specific and extensive actions to identify, monitor and assist customers who may be at risk of experiencing gambling-related harm, including by way of the suppressing of marketing material to any such customers and ensuring they are not inappropriately incentivized to intensify their gambling.”