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 99% of people who gamble). In this case, 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 close losing accounts, i.e. those who they deem may win; based on their betting patterns, i.e. price sensitive, don’t bet at starting price on horses, don’t gamble on casino games, etc., so this obviously affects the percentages.
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% who do win and those who are deemed as possible winners (not even an approximate percentage available). So, let’s take a guess; about 0.5% of people who gamble.
The figure, we therefore need to define ‘small’; is what percentage of these 1.5% of gamblers get their accounts closed or restricted. 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.
We have plenty of evidence on file that losing accounts are closed. Based on this fact, what would your guess be for the percentage of winning accounts closed or restricted. Our educated guess is around 95%, as there are some people, who have winning ‘convenience’ accounts, e.g. friends of the bookmakers and those who the bookmakers need as friends. Now, an even more wild guess; how many losing punters with ability get their accounts closed or restricted: Let’s be very kind and say 33%.
Based on the proper cohort of people that the UKGC should be looking at and our ‘guesstimates’, the figures for restricting and closing accounts are fairly likely to be 95% and 33% in these two groups of people. Would you define this as a ‘small’ problem?
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: