The Gamblers Consumer Forum have written to the Information Commissioners Office to raise concerns regarding bookmaker practices of requesting data from consumers and clarity around the use of this for commercial purposes. The letter is reproduced below:
‘We are writing to highlight the serious concerns of those using betting operators in relation to consumer documentation requests from companies in the gambling sector.
We are well aware of the close relationship the ICO have enjoyed with the Gambling Commission in relation to developing a sandbox for sharing data. We now have reason to believe that operators are sharing information which is enabling them to root out consumers who target bookmakers for multi-accounting and other behaviours that lie outside terms and conditions. Whilst we as an organisation do not condone these practices, we do have to pose the question as to whether the ICO consider practices such as this – using data for commercial means instead of doing so to identify gambling harm. We would therefore be grateful if you could outline exactly what the parameters are with regards to the commercial uses of the sandbox, and how this is monitored by both the ICO and the Gambling Commission.
In addition to this, we would be grateful if you could also outline the current ICO guidance and procedures relating to bookmakers requesting documentation from customers. It is well documented that this is a common practice at the stage a consumer makes a withdrawal request, with Anti Money Laundering being cited as the reasoning. However in a recent case bought before the Independent Betting Adjudication Service, Skybet had requested documentation and used the bank statements which were provided to identify a payment. This was then judged at third party funding and the bookmaker then enforced terms and conditions to not pay out winnings on the account.
Whilst we make no comment on the terms and conditions used by bookmakers, we would ask whether the ICO consider it appropriate for bookmaker firms to use information on bank statements in this way, which is clearly commercial, when the premise of the request was a different purpose. We understand DCMS will be looking a third party to handle enhanced affordability checks should they be implemented, and will not leave it to the bookmaker companies to handle such data. If this is the direction the Government are traveling in, then we would ask what guidance the ICO are providing bookmakers on the perimeters they can work to when requesting personal financial data and how the ICO supervises bookmakers to see they are not breaching the code of conduct.’