Recently we have been contacted by a number of operators expressing concern and directing us to review the services being offered by CasinoBlocker.com. Having now reviewed this site/service we share the contacting operators’ concerns about this service and feel it necessary to issue a warning to all players.
CasinoBlocker.com is a service purporting to “Close your casino accounts in 2 minutes”. The site was registered on the 8th of August 2018. On the surface of the site we actually not only like the concept but would heartily endorse any effort to help players manage their gambling responsibly. However, nearly every aspect of the way this service is set up we find extremely concerning including the legality of their service, the effectiveness of the system, the motivations of the owners and the potential for abuse.
How does the service work?
Firstly you provide them with your name, email, phone number and address:
Next you provide them with your casino user name, how long you want to exclude for and your reason for excluding:
Finally you confirm your details and provide them with payment information to pay a $25 fee (at some points on their site they list a price of $30):
After this CasinoBlocker.com contact all the casinos in their database to request that your account be closed.
So what’s the problem?
There are multiple problems with this service and I’m going to go through them one at a time below:
Privacy Law – With the implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) on the 25th of May 2018 the laws surrounding how your personal information can be used and shared have been forced into far higher prominence. The way that online services have to present themselves has changed radically. Most readers will have now experienced pop-up messages alerting you when a website is putting cookies on your computer (there's one on this site) at most sites they visit now. These are a direct result of the implementation of the GDPR. These cookie consent requirements are only the most surface level and visible of what businesses are required to do to inform you of the actions they are taking and how they are tracking your personal information.
CasinoBlocker.com’s sole concession to the privacy of your date is the following and privacy law is:
Effectiveness of the system – There are three main reasons that this system cannot and will not function as it is advertised even if the owner’s intentions are entirely genuine.
i) Firstly, the information you provide CasinoBlocker.com would be incomplete to complete the stated task. You are asked for a single email address, a single phone number, a single address, a single username. Unless you have signed up to every gambling operator with exactly the same details – something that we can say based on our experience managing player complaints would be pretty unusual – many operators will struggle to find your account. Partial matches on account data would not be sufficient to complete this task. Even if all the operators contacted wanted to engage with CasinoBlocker.com many accounts would be missed.
ii) Next, CasinoBlocker.com state on their site that they will contact over 200 gambling operators [Note: having looked at their published list there only currently appear to be 8]. As part of our own Responsible Gambling initiative we have been developing BetBlocker over the last 12 months. Part of the development of this tool has required us to compile a list of active gambling operators. Our list currently comprises of around 5.5k active gambling operators and I know that there are a significant number more for us to find. Even if you assume we’ve got every active gambling operator that would mean that CasinoBlocker are contacting less than 4% of the industry. For every 25 gambling operators 24 of them won’t be contacted by CasinoBlocker. Again, accounts will be missed.
iii) Finally, and most significantly, operators cannot action a request of this nature without having spoken directly to YOU. To put this in context – if I set up a similar service today offering to close all your bank accounts for you and you signed-up to use this service, do you think that any bank is going to close your account because I asked them to? Even if I claim to have your permission to close your account? The same is true for gambling operators. CasinoBlocker do not make any security verification checks to ensure that the person who’s entered the information is the person named in the information. No gambling operator is going to close an account without confirming that the instructions have come from the account holder and that the account holder understand the consequences of such a closure. That means answering security verification questions over Live Chat or phone or contacting them from the email address registered with your account. It would be a foolish operator that took action on a player’s account without having confirmed that the instruction is coming from the account holder.
There is one similar service operating within the UK market – GamStop – that will look to ensure that all of your accounts with UK licensed operators are closed by registering with them. This group works with the UK Gambling Commission to develop and maintain this service and conducts verification checks before any action is taken to ensure that they know who has registered with them. UK licensed operators are required by the regulator to engage with GamStop. No gambling operator is going to take similar instruction from an unknown group with no regulatory authorisation to carry out the function that CasinoBlocker are claiming to.
Motivation of the owners – In the previous section we detail why CasinoBlocker cannot work. Lack of enough information to complete the task, a tiny percentage of operators contacted and an industry that will not cooperate with this system. It should not be difficult to see why this system will not work and while we can say that operators are being contacted by CasinoBlocker, meaning that the owners are trying to perform the advertised function, it seems very unlikely that CasinoBlocker are unaware of a significant number of operators either not acknowledging their contacts or rejecting actioning their requests. That being the case the owners of this organisation must surely be aware that they are charging vulnerable players – players who have in all likelihood already lost more money gambling than they can afford to lose – for a service that does not work. Even setting aside the highly questionable function of the system, if the published casino database is accurate this service is currently advertising that it contacts 200+ operators and in actual fact only contacting 8.
We also have significant concerns, given the lack of any available information on the owners of this service, lack of privacy or security information and the nature of the information being collected, about other potential uses that this information could be put to. A list of contact details for players who are confirmed gambling addicts would be highly valuable information to an unscrupulous gambling operator. With no regulatory oversight like GamStop CasinoBlocker could very easily be mis-used.
This is actually the exact reason that when putting together BetBlocker we set-up the app in a way that required no personal information from the user. We wanted to ensure that the personal data of problem gamblers could never be mis-used and the best way to do that was not to have any of their personal data. It would have been far easier for us if the user had an account that they could log into especially when it comes to the identification and rectification of any errors with the operation of the app. But the potential for abuse of this information, whether by ourselves or by any group that unlawfully managed to access the information, was far too large a risk for us to consider this approach viable.
We're certainly not claiming that the owners of CasinoBlocker.com are engaged in anything nefarious with user data, but we are extremely uncomfortable with this type of highly sensitive information being collected and held by any organisation with no oversight.
Potential for abuse – Even if we presume that the intentions of this owners of CasinoBlocker are entirely benign, indeed they may well be trying to achieve something that helps vulnerable players, this system is still hugely flawed. CasinoBlocker.com take your personal details and send them out to EVERY casino in their database. Even the most enthusiastic of gamblers in unlikely to have anywhere close to 100 gambling accounts. There’s no option for the player to choose which operators are contacted by CasinoBlocker so the end result here is that hundreds of gambling operators who you’ve never held an account with will be contacted and handed all your contact information. CasinoBlocker may have no negative intentions in this endeavour but where information like this is passed to hundreds of operators there’s simply no way to ensure that those operators and the employees that deal with these communications will hold to the same principals. Once this information has been passed to all of these operators CasinoBlocker no longer have any control over what happens to it.
Sadly, no matter what angle we view CasinoBlocker from, we can see nothing but a huge potential risk to the most vulnerable players coupled with an expense that they can’t afford for a tool that won’t deliver the desired results. I sincerely hope that this service is intended solely to help player but feel strongly that regardless of intent players should steer well clear of this organisation.
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