Trouble In The Gambling World: Gambling Firms Receive Unprecedented Number Of Complaints

According to BBC Panorama, the Gambling Commission has seen an increase in complaints against betting firms of nearly 5000% in 5 years.  With leading complaints alleging that betting firms are using underhand techniques to tempt problem gamblers back to the tables.

Compared to 2013, where they were just 169 complaints, there were more than 8000 complaints in 2018. This is according to BBC Panorama who managed to obtain figures from the Gambling Commission.

How Legislations Plays a Role in Complaints

In recent years, the government has rolled out many different pieces of legislation to reduce problem gambling and help those who experience problems from falling further into debt.  We have a host of news stories you can read about the consequences for betting firms that flout these rules.

Even though we don’t provide gambling opportunities at, we also have to adhere to certain rules and regulations designed to protect punters from financial distress. For example, if you look to the right of your screen now (or below if you’re on mobile), you will see our “Help and Support” link to Be Gamble Aware.  We have to provide these details on our website.

Complaints against gambling firms cover many different nefarious practices, many of which fail to protect vulnerable gamblers. For example, failing to remove people from mailing lists and then enticing them with special offers and bonuses. Not only does this break rules set out by the gambling commission, but it also flouts EU regulations concerning the management of personal data (i.e., GDPR).

Gambling firms must also look out for obvious signs of problem gambling from their customers. For example, casinos must seek to identify customers who spend large amounts of money quickly.

But there’s good news for punters: the Gambling Commission is cracking down hard on casinos that break these rules, including both bricks and mortar casinos and online casinos. As a result, we expect to see an increasing number of penalties filed against UK and EU based gambling firms.

What Accounts for the Increase in Complaints?

The exact reason for the increase in complaints against gambling firms is not entirely clear. Many different factors are likely to have played a part.

Legislation has played a big role. Consequently, we have seen record penalties against gambling firms that disobey the rules. Notably, the Gambling Commission issued Ladbrokes Coral Group with a £5.9m penalty, of which a significant proportion was due to failures in their social responsibility interactions. According to the Gambling Commission site,

“Ladbrokes did not carry out any social responsibility interactions with a customer who lost £98,000 over two-and-a-half years, had 460 attempted deposits into their account declined, and even asked the operator to stop sending promotions.”

Other reasons for the increase in complaints likely include an increase in awareness of greater consumer rights for gamblers; growth in the online casino industry (exposing an increasing number of people to easy/quick gambling); and the introduction of fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs – although steps are in place to minimise this).

Would you like to learn more about problem gambling in the UK? Find the Panorama programme, Addicted to Gambling, on the BBC iPlayer.

Picture of dice - thanks to the artist on Pexels

Harvey Dickenson

Safe Gambling Specialist

Harvey Dickenson is our safe gambling specialist. Harvey is a recreational poker player and an expert in online casino safety, cons, and scams.

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