Could VIP Accounts be Coming to an End?
by Glenn Baird - January 3, 2020
The findings of a secret report were published yesterday in the Guardian, with the governing body for gambling in the UK now suggesting a ban on VIP schemes could be on the way.
The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) now has to decide if VIP schemes, designed to keep high rollers coming back, should be scrapped.
VIP membership programmes offer incentives, such as free bets, to gamblers who spend big and more often than not, lose big whilst using their services.
The report suggests that the small number of customers considered VIPs contribute vastly disproportionate amounts to the profits obtained by betting companies and that in one instance a firm made 83% of their account deposits from 2% of their customers.
The UKGC have already flagged this up as a concern and have stated that they are looking into the matter, and are considering taking things further than the current system of fines and bans.
In a statement a spokesperson for the UKGC has said: “Operators must improve their interaction with VIPs and we have challenged the industry to make faster progress to improve how they manage their customers. We have also taken robust action against operators who fail to protect consumers and we will be even tougher if behaviour does not change.”
The UKGC has gathered data on VIP schemes from 9 of the largest gambling operators in the UK but has granted each of the companies involved anonymity.
It would appear that in at least 7 of the 9 companies taking part in the report the percentage of overall account deposits is hugely reliant on a relatively small number of VIP members.
This suggests that if a ban on VIP accounts was to be implemented in the UK it could have a devastating impact on the profit margins within the industry.
Major concerns are now being raised, as it has been revealed that as many as 8% of all problem gamblers are considered VIP members, with further worries that algorithms used to spot potential VIPs do not effectively spot the signs exhibited by problem gamblers.
All of this means that the industry will, at the very least, have a VIP code of conduct introduced, with the possibility that the scheme could be banned completely.
Labour MP Carolyn Harris, the chair on a cross-party parliamentary group on gambling had this to say: “This report shows how completely reliant the industry is on people with gambling problems and that they are profiteering from them.
“As the Gambling Commission has itself suggested these practices should be banned to protect problem gamblers and stop the transfer of money from vulnerable addicted gamblers directly into the pockets of the online gambling industry.”
The report comes after induvial accounts of problem gamblers struggling to break free from the cycle has cited VIP offers and bonuses as part of that struggle.