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Video Slots – responsible gambling complaint and failure to provide data

Ruling

Found for the Casino - This player engaged an 'Account Lock' via the in account restriction tools available at Video Slots. The 'Self-Exclusion' tool was directly beside this yet the player did not choose this option but now wants to claim that their account should never have been re-opened as they 'self-excluded'.

Further to this, it has come to light that this player has repeatedly tried to use self-exclusion policies to try to wrongfully claim back losses. This type of behaviour makes it more difficult to genuine problem gamblers to get the help they need when things go wrong.

Read our VideoSlots Casino Review.

Player's Complaint

Having some trouble with this operator. Requested my account by excluded for a maximum period of time. Did not use their 'lock' feature, specifically requested exclusion as I am a problem gambler. This was last year. I recently tried to reopen the account, was told is was closed until 2042 but could be reopened with a 7 day cooling off period (alarming). As a problem gambler running out of places that I am excluded from, I agreed. I am unhappy that the exclusion wasn't honoured. Now when I request the data they hold on me they refuse to provide it. They claim all requests should be made through the UKGC. (Please note that the Commission does not provide legal advice, or become involved with individual customer disputes). I submitted a request for the information held on me in the following way both to customer support and to [EDIT] on here...

Dear Videoslots.co.uk

This is a request for information under the UK Data Protection Act 1998. For the benefit of doubt following your support staff's previous emails it is NOT the UKGC or any third party's job to provide this info. Could the operator, under the Data Protection Act:

Please supplie the information about me that I am entitled to be provided with under the Data Protection Act 1998 relating to: my account

The information I specifically want is all emails exchaged since the account was opened.

all live chat records, particularly those of of the conversation when I excluded the account.

Information held on the communications I made when asking for the account to be excluded.

details of all deposits made following said request to exclude

details of upon when the 'lock account' option became live in it's current form on videoslots.com

If you need any more information from me, or a fee, please let me know as soon as possible.

It may be helpful for you to know that a request for information under the Data Protection Act 1998 should be responded to within 40 days.

If you do not normally deal with these requests, please pass this letter to your Data Protection Officer. If you need advice on dealing with this request, the Information Commissioner’s Office can assist you and can be contacted on 0303 123 1113 or at ico.org.uk

Yours faithfully

[EDIT]

P.S please again note that it is your lawful responsibility to provide this information, and not through the UKGC or any other third party.

Despite my request, citing the Data Protection Act 1998, their support continues to play hardball with the data I am requesting.

[EDIT]:

There is nothing we can do for you regarding this matter here from the support. After reviewing your case it has been sent forward to the UKGC and as mentioned your contact with us have to go through them. If you contact them you can send your requests and / or complaint via this third party.

My data request has nothing to do with the UKGC and they are not referenced in it. They do not get involved in individual disputes and would not be helpful in this matter. I have reported the operator to the UKGC, but this does not in any way mean that they have become a third party that must be liaised with. Especially when it comes to providing requested data in which the commission is not referenced.

Why are they so reluctant to provide this information to me? In case of a clear display of wrongdoing by the operator? They don't seem to know their backside from their elbow when it comes to laws, licensing and disputes. I am just one player and seem more clued up then them.

How do I proceed here? The UKGC aren't usually the quickest and as said, don't get involved in individual disputes. Do I report them to the ICO for failing to provide data to me under the Data Protection Act?

Any help/advice appreciated.

Regards.

Read the casino review

26 Responses

ThePOGG
Dec 04, 2015

Hi thompers86 - welcome to ThePOGG.com!

To begin with we're not qualified in any way, shape or form to provide you with legal advice. In my personal opinion I suspect you may be confusing the Data Protection Act with the Freedom of Information Act, but I wouldn't state that as fact. I also wouldn't want to pass an opinion on how these acts of legislation hold up with regard to cross boarder issues.

What I can say is that you are right that the UKGC do not directly deal with player complaints. However they do accredit Alternative Dispute Resolution services to deal with player complaints for them.

My first suggestion would be to provide your username and email address at VideoSlots and we'll try to talk to the operator for you. It would also be handy if you could forward any and all communication you had with VideoSlots about this issue and surrounding the time that you requested an exclusion to [email protected]

Thanks,

ThePOGG

thompers86
Dec 08, 2015

Have sent the email you requested, but received nothing back. Their argument that my account wasn't excluded but in fact on a self imposed 10,000 day time out is defunct anyway as the UKGC terms of license states that a time out period of a maximum of 6 weeks can be applied to an account. So therefore it should have been honoured as an exclusion. It is not reasonable to not honour a 27 year time-out on the back of a weeks cooling off period. And as said, a 27/28 year time-out period is against the codes of practice of the UKGC

thompers86
Dec 08, 2015

Also still having trouble getting an explanation and the full data I requested from the casino. They've sent me some chat logs but none of the data I requested re: logs of how the account was closed etc.

ThePOGG
Dec 11, 2015

Hi thompers86,

I have managed to contact Video Slots about this issue and am awaiting further detail from them.

Thanks,

ThePOGG

ThePOGG
Dec 30, 2015

Hi thompers86,

I've heard back from VideoSlots and they are going to mail the full history of correspondence with you to your postal address on or before the 7th of January.

At that point I'd ask you to review the provided documentation and provide me photos of any relevant information you wish considered.

Thanks,

ThePOGG

ThePOGG
Jan 11, 2016

Hi thompers86,

You should have received the correspondence you requested towards the end of last week. Can you confirm receipt and provide any sections you feel are relevant to this discussion?

Thanks,

ThePOGG

thompers86
Jan 11, 2016

Hi, I received a USB stick with all of the account data on. The data confirmed that I requested to lock the account until 2042, or 10,000 days. Under their T&Cs an account lock can be reversed with a cooling off period. The UKGC recently updated it's responsible gambling codes of practice to state that 'cooling off' periods should be for a maximum of 6 weeks (therefore I would assume anything longer an exclusion). This is the discrepancy and dispute with the casino. Should my 10,000 day lock have been treated as an exclusion as the rules at the time of requesting an unlock were that cool-offs should be a 6-week maximum - or was the casino correct to unlock my account at my request (A 10,000 day lock request is an obvious sign of a potential problem gambler in my eyes). The UKGC also explicitly stated that the new rules, when introduced, applied to all existing license holders and not just new ones.

ThePOGG
Jan 13, 2016

Hi thompers86,

I'm not sure I can agree with you on this one. Unless somewhere in your communication with the operator you made explicitly clear that the closure of your account was due to problem gambling or it was overtly obvious via your behaviour that you were a problem gambler, simply requesting an account lock is not enough to qualify for consideration under problem gambling policies.

A large number of players use this type of request to effectively close their account simply because they are annoyed with the operator or results they've received while playing and as such it does not necessarily follow that because you requested the longest length of self-exclusion that you would or should automatically be considered a problem gambler.

If you feel that you have made explicitly clear that your closure was for problem gambling reasons I'd request that you make a copy of the information that was sent to you and forward on the USB stick to the following address:

ThePOGG.com

PO Box 2089

Livingston

EH54 0GF

Thanks,

ThePOGG

thompers86
Jan 13, 2016

Well a 10,000 day lock was the maximum available so a request to lock for that long was an obvious sign that I had an express wish not to play there any more. The casino itself obvious considers it to be a responsible gambling tool, as they apply a 7 day cooling off period. However an account lock or cooling off period according to the UKGC should only be permissible for a maximum of 6 weeks. I think if the ability to reverse an account lock is there then why even be able to specify a defined period of time? All the tool is effectively is a 7 day account lock. Why give me the option of 10,000 days? I'm not happy that my play was accepted and when it's difficult to swallow losing a large sum of money as a problem player to an operator that you've asked to not take your business until 2042. It seems like a bit of a sham responsible gambling tool to have embedded into their website in my opinion. Even the 6 week maximum cooling off period that the UKGC must be served, the ability to reverse a 'lock' I can accept, but where a time frame is specified as it was, 10,000 days, that is what I find so frustrating and troubling.

ThePOGG
Jan 13, 2016

Or it's a disgruntled player using the self-exclusion policies to close their account to demonstrate that they don't intend to play with the casino again. Much like receiving bad service at a restaurant, saying that you'll never go back doesn't actually mean you'll never go back.

It's been common place for players to mis-use the problem gambling exclusions for this purpose and this issue has come up time and time again in other complaints and at other sites. If you've not been clear that you're asking for an exclusion for problem gambling reasons, the exclusions are treated as simply locking your account.

The message I'm getting at the present time is that you did not make it clear to the operator that this was a problem gambling issue. If that's the case and there's no blatantly obvious indicators in your communication with the operator that you were a compulsive gambler (sever emotional distress is the most common), there's not going to be anything we can do to assist you.

As a UK player you do have the option to contact VideoSlots ADR about this issue (IBAS) or if you're non-UK the Malta Gaming Authority.

ThePOGG

thompers86
Jan 13, 2016

Their account lock feature is clearly their version of the cooling off period that they are obliged to offer in their terms of license. Otherwise they were not offering the cooling off period that they are obliged to offer by license. Said cooling off periods aren't reverseable. So either this account lock feature is the cooling-off period or they breached the UKGC LLCP by not offering them. I'd consult IBAS but they don't offer opinions/judgement on licensing issues, they only adjudicate bets. If you think reversing a 10,000 day account lock whilst not offering a cooling off period is this operator acting responsibly and within the terms of it's license then I'm not sure there's anything more I can say to convince you.

Thanks for listening to my concerns anyway.

Regards,
[EDIT].

thompers86
Jan 13, 2016

"Customers must be offered a ‘time out’ facility for
reasonable durations up to 6 weeks." [EDIT]

Even now they don't seem to be offering that option to UK players [EDIT]

Not saying that's strictly relevant to this, just a display that the operator hasn't got the rules regarding time outs/account locks/cooling-off periods correct and in my opinion, offering the ability to specify a duration for an account lock is rendered completely pointless by being simply reversible in 7 days.

ThePOGG
Jan 13, 2016

Where a player requests a restriction on their account without informing the operator of a gambling problem the operator assumes mundane reasons for the request. Dissatisfaction with service, short term lack of capacity (intoxication), absence from facility (travelling, work or holidays), preventing unauthorized access). The list goes on.

Your response tells me clearly that at no point did you indicate to the operator that you had a gambling problem nor did you specifically envoke gambling protection policies. Instead you've asked for your account to be closed/restricted.

If you want an operator to treat you as a problem gambler you have to make sure they know you're a problem gambler. Responsibility goes both ways. You're responsible to make the operator aware of the problem and they're responsible for preventing you from playing after that point. If you've not made clear to the operator that this was a gambling protection issue then your case doesn't fall under the gambling protection rules.

Regarding IBAS, on this issue you're wrong. Previously you were right, but as a designated ADR service for the UKGC they are now obliged to deal with all forms of customer disputes against operators that use their service. As such I'd suggest you give them a try and see what they have to say.

ThePOGG

thompers86
Jan 13, 2016

The point about being indicating being a problem gambler is moot because the account lock request until 2042 should be honoured. The feature is effectively a 7 day lock so why is the operator offering the option to lock for 10,000 days if they have no intention of honouring such a length of time? When I requested a 10,000 day lock, I did so with the mindset that I didn't have to worry about losing money there for 10,000 days. Making it reversible is a ridiculous piece of small print rendering the duration of an account lock pointless. Why offer the ability to set a duration at all if it can simply be undone? The operator I hasten to add still isn't offering UK players cooling off periods it is obliged to. Ibas recently communicated to me that they are a betting adjudicator and pointed me towards the UKGC for licensing complaints, who subsequently request data but indicate that they don't get involved in individual player disputes.

Regards,
[EDIT]

thompers86
Jan 13, 2016

Dear Mr Thompson

I acknowledge receipt of your submission which outlined your complaint against Videoslots.

We do normally deal with most bet disputes but I would have to advise you that this Service is not a regulator of the industry and have no powers as to how bookmakers are operating. We only offer in the main third party adjudication in pricing and settlement complaints. Your type of complaint (self exclusion) is a social responsibility issue and one that will have to be communicated to the Gambling Commission, the government body responsible for licensing and regulating bookmakers in the UK.

Their contact details are as follows: Email: [email protected] Telephone: +44 121 230 6666

Although the Commission have advised that they will only consider whether an operator has followed the LCCP codes regarding self exclusion and they will not be involved in getting the funds invested by you back for you. This would be an issue you’d have to follow up with the operator concerned.

I am sorry to say that it looks like whatever process you take it will not end in you receiving the funds you are after. Your only recourse would be any legal channels now available to you.

I am genuinely sorry we can be of no assistance in your complaint.

Regards

[EDIT]

Adjudication Manager

IBAS

ThePOGG
Jan 13, 2016

No - if you've not requested the restriction based on problem gambling policies there's no moral or legal reason that the operator should keep your account closed when you request it to be reopened - which is exactly what you did.

People change their minds all the time. Gamblers get annoyed losing, decide they don't want to play with that casino any more then change their minds a few months later. It's only at the point where the operator has reason to believe that you're not in control of your own actions that they would go against a direct request from you. As you've not made that clear, they've no reason to do that.

I'm not here to argue with you regarding whether or not the operator is currently compliant with gambling protection policies. I will highlight your concerns to them, but as they aren't relevant to your case as you didn't tell them you were a problem gambler, they're the moot point.

Regarding IBAS, if you tell me when you received that communication from IBAS I'll pursue this issue with the UKGC. My current understanding of the ADR policies is that they extend beyond 'specific bet' cases and I know for a fact that other ADR operators are dealing with gambling protection issues. If the communication comes from before the 1st of October 2015 then you're right that IBAS won't consider the issue as the ADR procedures only came in to force at that point.

ThePOGG

thompers86
Jan 13, 2016

14/12/15 that email is from. So what to make of that?

The fact that the account lock feature was on their responsible gambling page should tell you what the feature is/was intended for. The fact that there wasn't an alternative cooling-off option suggests that this 'lock' feature was their version of the cooling-off feature. The fact that it can be reversed at 7 days notice renders any defined lock period irrelevant. It's effectively a rolling 7 day cooling off period that was on offer, not a 10,000 day lock that was requested.

ThePOGG
Jan 14, 2016

The fact that they are using the same system to implement account closures/suspensions as they use for the problem gambling protocol isn't what defines whether a situation is a problem gambling issue. It's whether or not YOU tell them that it's a problem gambling issue.

This is very very straight forward - if you haven't told them this is a problem gambling issue then the operator has no justification what-so-ever for marking your account as a gambling protection issue.

I'll contact the UKGC and get more information regarding IBAS.

Thanks,

ThePOGG

thompers86
Jan 14, 2016

I have used a feature implemented into a responsible gambling page, therefore the reasons for using such feature are obvious. When I believe my account is locked for 10,000 days through a contactless process, the need to separately contact the company and explain the reasons why seems odd. It was a responsible gambling tool on a responsible gambling page. Again, I stress the feature was rendered a rolling 7-day cool off by their policy. They are obliged to provide non-reversible cool off periods up to a maximum of 6 weeks. I think we'll have to agree to disagree on this one. Thanks for hearing my grievances anyway, I can't fault ThePOGG as you've provided me with assistance previously with success.

Kind regards,
Lee

ThePOGG
Jan 14, 2016

Hi thompers86,

My understanding to date has been that your restriction came about via direct communication with casino support. If you used a tool within the Problem Gambling section of the VideoSlots site that would make a significant difference to our position on this situation.

I have contacted the UKGC regarding your issue today. They've informed me that Problem Gambling issues should be referred to them directly rather than ADR services as these issues are of a complex nature that the regulator is better positioned to manage.

I've also been informed that ThePOGG.com has received accreditation as a UKGC ADR service today, which means that we're now obligated to direct you to contact the UKGC directly. While I can't confirm this directly I would be surprised if the UKGC took the position that IBAS suggested with regard to the return of funds. I would anticipate that if the UKGC agrees with you that funds would be returned.

The address you should contact is [email protected] and please mark the email FAO [EDIT].

If I've picked you up right and that your restriction was initiated via the Problem Gambling page of the VideoSlot website, I would encourage you to make that clear in your complaint. I would also appreciate it if you could let us know the outcome of your complaint.

Thanks,

ThePOGG

thompers86
Jan 15, 2016

Thanks, this is something I have done already. Prompt replies isn't a strong point of the UKGC and they won't get involved in individual disputes. From what I believe they will acknowledge the complaint and address it if they deem necessary but won't provide any feedback or ask for my money back. I will provide any update if I receive one. Upset with Videoslots on this one, who basically shut up shop and refused to hear my case. They are still in breach of the LLCP I believe from reading their current responsible gambling page, but as I don't have an account there now I'm not able to log in and see if they are indeed providing the tools they're supposed to. For a casino rated so highly on affiliate sites they don't acknowledge complaints or constructive criticism very well though!

Thanks again, do the casino have the ability to respond in here or are they just opting not to? I certainly feel like ThePOGG is a better place to air a grievance than Casinomeister, where if you post on a forum there's a clique that jumps to the defence of the Casino, based purely on the how their 'accredited' reps level of respect on the forum and irrespective of the details of your complaint. Then they have "judge, jury and executioner" type moderators who seem to have little respect for problem players and never acknowledge the responsibility of the operator in cases of problem gambling. Happy to see you guys be recognised as an ADR, you certainly handle things better than those guys, who I would be appalled to see receive ADR status. Keep up the good work,

Kind regards,
[EDIT].

ThePOGG
Jan 20, 2016

Hi thompers86,

I am still looking into exactly how this issue can/should be managed. UKGC regulations have only recently come into place and the exact structure that is applied to each situation is still somewhat fluid.

I'll get back to you when I know more.

Thanks,

ThePOGG

ThePOGG
Jan 29, 2016

Hi thompers86,

I will be talking to Video Slots next week and while it will be a brief conversation I intend to raise your issue.

Thanks,

ThePOGG

thompers86
Feb 07, 2016

Thank you, did you get round to this?

ThePOGG
Feb 11, 2016

Hi thompers86,

I did speak to Video Slots in a general sense about the management of complaints on Saturday. Essentially the person that usually manages the communication about player issues has been out of the office due to the birth of their child. I've requested that someone else takes their place in the meantime and am hoping to move this issue forward in the near future.

Thanks,

ThePOGG

ThePOGG
Feb 16, 2016

Hi thompers86,

I've now had a long conversation with the operator regarding this specific issue and done some looking into your past activities.

Firstly, having discussed the issue with VideoSlots, I've looked at our own VideoSlots account. While you did initiate the account lock via the Gambling Protection page you did not use the 'Self-exclusion' option, instead selecting the 'Lock Account' option. You can see this below:

If you've not used the Self-exclusion option this would not be considered a self-exclusion. That the lock was initiated via the gambling protection page is not enough in itself to define your restriction as a problem gambling issue when there was a clear option directly below specifically for those who wanted to close their account due to problem gambling issues.

Further to this however, it appears that you have a history of trying to self-exclude at various operators then use the self-exclusion policies to claim back money:

http://www.casinomeister.com/forums/showthread.php?t=67456&p=696951#post696951

I've discussed this with the CasinoMeister team and can confirm you are the same person who was being spoken about in the above post. They've informed us you've tried this same tactic at DublinBet, MegaCasino, SlotsMagic and Guts.

This repeated pattern strongly suggests that you are trying to use the self-exclusion policies put in place by the UKGC to create no loses situations for yourself. This sort of strategy is entirely unacceptable. The hard line taken by the UKGC with regard to problem gambling is intended to protect people who are genuinely at risk. When people abuse these policies it makes it that much more difficult for the players with real gambling issues to get the help they need.

I'm sorry but we won't be able to offer you any further assistance with this issue.

ThePOGG

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The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland sits to the north-west of mainland Europe. The United Kingdom shares a border with The Republic of Ireland and has coasts on the Atlantic Ocean, Celtic Sea, North Sea, Irish Sea and English Channel. The population of the UK is approaching the 67.6 million mark leading to a fairly densely populated land mass. The gambling sector in the United Kingdom is entirely regulated and licensed by the UKGC – the United Kingdom Gambling Commission. Should players resident In the UK wish to gamble with foreign based operators there is no history of this being treated as a criminal offence, but high levels of protection exist for UK residents playing with UK licensed operators.

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