We have been told by the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) that this is a ‘small’ problem. Our response was; how are you defining ‘small’?
Let’s assume that bookmakers do not close accounts of those who lose (approximately 97-99% of people who gamble). Based on this, of course, the bookmaker PR agents can easily get away with saying it is a ‘small’ problem, if you know nothing about research, statistics or even basic mathematics. If you do and we assume the UKGC must have some staff that do the picture might look a little different.
Firstly, we already know that bookmakers do restrict, effectively close accounts, i.e. those who they deem may win; based on their betting patterns, e.g. price sensitive, don’t bet at starting price on horses, don’t gamble on casino games, etc.
More importantly, when defining if the problem of closing and restricting accounts is ‘small’ we must look at the correct cohort of people, i.e. the 1-3% who do win and those who are deemed as possible winners (not even an approximate percentage available for the latter).
The figure, we therefore need to define ‘small’; is what percentage of these winning gamblers get their accounts restricted or closed? To be honest nobody knows as the bookmakers do not have to reveal these figures and of course those nice people at the UKGC do not insist they do; they let them get away with saying ‘small’ without appropriately defining it.
What would your guess be for the percentage of winning accounts closed or restricted? Our educated guess is around 99%, as there are some people, who have winning ‘convenience’ accounts, e.g. friends of the bookmakers and those who the bookmakers need as friends. Would you define this as a ‘small’ problem? It’s a huge problem, because it affects 99% of the cohort of gamblers woh win.
Would it seem sensible for a regulator of gambling to get some proper evidence of this problem? By definition; gambling is about winning and losing, so as a regulator that aspires to gambling being ‘fair and open‘, do you think it might be prudent to find out if customers (punters) are being allowed to win in the medium and long term? Nobody is expecting companies to lose millions to individuals, but closing accounts of people who are winning £100.00 might just provide an insight into the joke that is defining this problem as ‘small’.
The following links provide some of our evidence: