Gambling Companies

Incentivising dangerous gambling

Most people talk about how the gambling companies do not do what they were supposed to, and do not intervene to stop them when they are gambling dangerously. Rather, gambling companies reward them to get them to gamble more.

People say it was obvious to the gambling companies that their gambling was out of control – the companies can see the vast amount or patterns of gambling, and the amount of time or money they are spending. But gambling companies do nothing to stop them. They use the information they have about customers to target them with offers and bonuses instead.

People say gambling companies do not care what harm is being done to their consumers. Because companies make more money from consumers who are gambling in harmful ways.

If this person’s betting 30, 40 times a day, and this where it can go to another authority for an authority to contact them and to say, “Are you in a good place? Is this affecting you?” I know the industry’s doing as much as it can, and I know the Gambling Commission do fine these big bookmakers, casinos, and what have you, millions of pounds due to actually exploiting people really. They don’t know the story behind any gambler, whether it’s a woman or a man. They don’t know whether they’ve got a family, whether they’ve got a good job, a bad job, whether they’re in thousands in debt, it’s all about taking the money.

I took out a 25 grand loan that night because I lost all the money for the builders. Fortunately, we’d paid a lot of it before, but there was still thousands and thousands to be paid to the builders. And then I took out a 25 grand loan and I put £22,000 into that Casumo account in two hours and 11 minutes. And nobody stopped it. I lost. I lost everything. And I stopped. I was like thank God it’s gone, and something hit me at that point it was, you’re going to kill yourself? Because if you kill yourself, you’ve left them with nothing.

Just the only thing I would say is it is really important, at least for me, but I would definitely say that I would stand by it, that is really an illness, being an addict is very much an illness. It’s not something, it may look like I chose to do things because I made certain decisions, and on paper in black and white I chose to do those things. But actually like, no logical person would choose to do these things. So the reason I acted in an illogical way was because I was consumed by the addiction of gambling and seeking those things that it gave me. And I may have masked other things just like, you know, alcohol or looking scrolling through social media or whatever watching TV does. But it doesn’t, I mean it’s preying on people’s vulnerability as well, and that, really, you know, the fact that no-one, it did happen a couple of times, but apart from a couple of times, nobody said, “You need to stop or you need to..”. No one and in terms of the organisations or the casinos that I was attending, said, “You can’t do that anymore”. Yeah. And even though they would have literally watched people go through a huge decline. Because there is people that I would go to the casino and you would recognize the same people, and like I say, like, it’s very different going to a casino 11 o’clock in the morning on a Monday compared to 11 o’clock at night on a Saturday. You know, you see the same people there and you know that you’re becoming like them or you are like them. And the casinos must see that and they must see that these people are just losing money constantly over huge periods of time. It’s not like, you know, a one off or twice a year. You’re talking about like every day or even if it’s like three times a week, if they’re losing a high amount of money three times a week. You know, they’re also behaving in an illogical way. You know, they’re just as much of the problem because they’re being illogical as well because any logical person would say, “Hold on a minute, you know, do you want to see how much you’ve lost?”. Because they’ve got it all recorded everywhere, especially online, but even in live casinos that have it recorded somewhere. So they could literally say, “Would you like to see how much money you’ve won or lost over the past month?” But there’s no chance of them doing that.


I remember one stage, peak of gambling, I had £95,000, in my Bet365 account. I did not get one call from that company. What’s in your account? You should stop, you should take this out, you should invest it, you should do this. Instead, they gave me more free bets, to keep me going. It was like a like a drug. They were like the pushers as an addict, keeping you going, keeping you going, keeping you spending.

And I was transferring £10, £10, £10 out of the joint account because in my head it was just £10 and then I’d make it to… and each time in the space of like I say in the space of an hour and a half, the entire month’s wages was gone in £10 transactions. So however, many transactions equates to 70, 80 plus £10 transactions. Which looking back as a gambling operator, that’s surely a worrying sign that someone’s transferring eight, nine hundred pounds in £10 deposits in the space of an hour and a half. That’s surely a worrying sign. That probably equates to about £10 every five minutes or something, which is insane. But that’s the mentality of it, unfortunately. Like I say, there was nowhere I could hide, and it was blatantly obvious from the account transactions what was happening and how it was happening.


People say when they had slowed or stopped gambling in an account, they are sent bonuses to get them gambling again. As they gamble more, they get bigger bonuses. Bonuses do not actually benefit consumers or cost gambling companies anything, because these just lead people to lose the bonus and then even more of their own money. People are made VIPs because of what they spent, even if they are funding their gambling on credit or money taken from other people.

You know, this is something we don’t choose, the gambling addiction. I’ve gambled most of my life without a problem. And when I did, when it did become a problem, the operators knew that I had an issue and instead, instead of acting, they just fed me, you know. If I didn’t have a bet for a day or two, they would stick up to £5,000 sometimes into my account with free bets, because they knew it would just get me going again.


And you look back and you just think like, they were just throwing money at me knowing that they could. It was just numbers on a screen. I was never going to get that money. And yeah, it was, it was honestly relentless. And if you went a couple of days without betting, it would be the case that they’d get in touch, not to check on your welfare or if you’re OK. It was to find out why you’re not betting and if there was anything they could do to get you back in. And I really wish I’d kept a lot of the emails around that time and things like that because I think it’d be quite damning, but it’s yeah. They suck you in and treat you like a friend. And then the moment I said enough was enough and I’d self-excluded, never heard from them again. I think in all the time, I was gambling and with all the operators I gambled with, I think two reached out to me and said, “Are you sure you’re in control?” And the patterns of my behaviour clearly pointed to somebody that was seriously out of control.


When I was online, I approached people and spoke about my gambling issues in terms of the providers. They then sent me £500 free credit to have a go, “see if you still like it”. That was one of the gambling providers. Rather than actually taking part in the safer gambling campaigns and things that they are meant to do it’s more encouraging [you] back in. Which was awful, a terrible, terrible time.

I suppose probably within five years of stopping gambling I was in the town where I lived in the halfway house and also worked one day and a former betting shop manager bumped into me, a lady and she said, “Oh Nick you look really well. We haven’t seen you for a long time”. I said, “No, I’ve not gambled for X amount”. I can’t remember the period at the time. And she said, “Oh, I’m so happy. She said, I’m really happy for you because we knew you got a problem, but we couldn’t say anything to you. And you look so much better”. And that was in the days before the gamble responsibly… All the advertising came out. There was none of that. Absolutely none of that. They were just happy to take your money. And they knew if I had a big win, they would get that money back fairly quickly and more with interest.

Nick #2

People mention how they are given rewards, like days out, and are made to feel special and important. VIP managers would seem to be their friend, and they would share personal information. The VIP managers then use this to send them messages or offers when they are vulnerable or have money available.

So, I was a VIP with a few different operators. And I think the longest, the longest period of time was with one particular operator. I still remember really vividly getting that first email from them to say, “Oh, hey, we’ve noticed that you’re staking amounts of money that are kind of interest to us and we’d really like to include you in our VIP scheme, I’d be your host, basically and it’ll open up all these different promotions and offers, I’m here for you 24/7”. And as stupid as it sounds, I can look back at now and think what a mug, like what was I thinking. But at the time, it made me feel really kind of like, “Oh, I’m sort of a high roller now. These guys, these guys really like me”. And I was probably on that scheme for maybe, that’s probably the longest actually I was on a scheme so maybe like nine or ten months, and my account my sort of account manager at the time, she would be in touch with me all the time, just, “Oh, we got this promotion”. And when you look at the promotions now, it just staggers me. So if you deposit £2000 today, we’ll give you a £500 top up to that £2000. And they know from their data that the chances are I’ll very quickly lose that £500, which will then lead me to lose the £2000 that I’ve then deposited over time. Because it’s funny there are times when you’re winning as gambler where you think, “God, they’re going to close my account here, because I’m winning loads”, but they know. The ridiculousness of it is like the losses are unlimited. As soon as you start winning, if I was to open an account with an operator and I was betting sensibly and winning, they would limit me as fast as they could.


And when I think the second year into gambling online, or third year, I got approached by the company that I was betting with, what are they called… these VIP managers. And it was like an introduction, “We’re coming over to Dubai for the World Cup, to the racing meeting”. Again, you can’t gamble over there, but it would be great to meet you, etc., etc., etc. And I thought wow, this is this is nice, like we’ve got a box if you want to bring any of your staff or any people you work with blah blah blah. And so, I got six people from my office. I said look, “This company has given me free tickets to this box, I know some of you wanted to go”. And yeah, we went to the races, and it was that typical champagne, food and executive box, and all pretty flash. And yeah, I thought this is great on the surface, like this is really, really good and it’s free. Started getting free bets, bigger free bets from them. Following that meeting, got an account manager who was again the same sex, supported the same football team as me and that’s why I’m sure they put him with me in the end. He would send me free bets, things like that. When that all happened, my gambling went to another level in terms of monetary terms and time. Not just about the money, but time as well. I felt I had to be loyal to this company. I felt that I had to continue only betting with them. And they were giving me all this free stuff so, you know, some of it’s free. None of it was ever free, the free bets were never free.


And the emails, the phone calls from my VIP manager, if I wasn’t on, “Is there anything wrong?”. The day my dad died, they phoned me. And they knew my dad was ill because I told them all. I told them I sold my house, told them I’d moved in with my dad. So, you know, they knew I was a cash pot and really, for a good probably eight months, they’d been grooming me anyway. They were my best friends.

I remember with a particular bookmaker, I was losing that much money, I was given a VIP status with them. I got an account manager essentially who was, looking back, they posed as a friend, we’ll give you X, Y, and Z. I got taken to Ascot. Got taken to watch Man United at Old Trafford VIP. I got taken to Wembley. Got taken all over because– At that stage, you think, “This is fantastic.” The reason they’re doing it is because you’re losing. You’re actually paying for it. You’re not getting it for free, you’re actually paying for it with the bets that you’re putting on.


But, you know, they were good to me. They talked to me and chatted to me and gave me presents, bonuses. They made me feel as though I was the only person in the world that was important. And at the time, no one else was doing that.

Using data to exploit people

People point out that gambling companies have a great deal of data on them. This is especially online, but also on the high street. Gambling companies are supposed to use this to protect consumers from being harmed. Instead they use people’s data to more effectively target them and get them to gamble, with offers and promotions tailored just for them. People say personalised marketing is not a benefit to consumers when it is about gambling. Because it is influencing them in sophisticated ways to do something that could harm them.

This myth that they don’t have the data. I mean, they’ve got plenty of data on the winning gamblers… I remember reading a story, somebody who used to work for [gambling company] saying that they would attach a value to players to say this person over this period of time is going to be worth this much money to us because this space on their pattern of play, this is how much they’re going to lose over time. And I 100 percent believe that… I mean, the sophistication of the data they have on people they can spot straight away within hours of somebody opening an account… The thing is a lot of these companies are interlinked now… they would be sharing all that information across all of those providers. So they would all know exactly how to get to you.

I’d like to see some sort of soft cap in the way that you can’t apply for a loan without proof of funds. You can’t get a mortgage without proof of funds. If you’ve got the proof of funds, and honestly in my opinion I don’t see what the problem is. You’re just going here you go; this is my income. This is I can therefore afford it. Because I think sometimes people can be a little bit selfish because they only see that from themselves and they go well if I want to spend that, then I should be able to but what about those people who are more vulnerable, such as me? You know, that would struggle to stay within a budget and then would go over like I did, like so many other people that have had this gambling addiction as an issue through their lives. There needs to be more accountability from the industry to be able to look at safeguarding. You see things all day about how the data’s used for exploitative purposes, targeted marketing, things like that. This is not, it’s not a game. These are people’s lives, and it literally does destroy lives.


You know, when are you going to land based casinos for me, a lot of them have your membership cards. I was going in every day, every night, consecutively, for months. That should have been red, red flag warning signs coming off to have a phone conversation, pulled to one side, Is everything okay, but nothing. Nothing really so.

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