We rarely hear about online casinos being fined. However, that very scenario arose recently following an investigation into the 32Red Casino by the Gambling Commission. 32Red is owned by the Kindred Group, based in Malta and providing several online casino brands for use by players.
The casino was fined £2 million for its behaviour in relation to the actions of one of its members. The following elements combined to suggest the gambler, who has remained nameless, was indeed in some trouble:
- The customer deposited £758,000 across a two-year period
- They exhibited frustrated behaviour
- They continued to gamble in the hope they could recoup their losses
Despite these counting as signs the customer was in trouble and could not control their gambling, 32Red did nothing to alleviate the issue. Instead, they provided further services:
- An offer of VIP status at the casino
- Free bonuses
According to reports, the gambler had spoken to staff at the casino and made statements on no fewer than 22 occasions that indicated they may be experiencing problems.
How are brands expected to react in such situations?
UK gambling regulations state all casinos should have procedures in place to ensure they are promoting ‘socially responsible gambling’. They should also make sure underage gambling is prevented from occurring.
They should also have procedures in place to ensure customer interaction takes place whenever it is suspected a customer might have a problem with gambling. Since there is no face-to-face interaction with someone, it is vital that brands can identify scenarios whereby someone might be in trouble. Certain signs may indicate there is a problem:
- Regularly accessing the casino
- Making regular deposits into their account
- Making large deposits into their account
- Chasing losses to try and win them back
- Winning large amounts and immediately using that cash to place further bets
The gambler whose behaviour led to the £2 million fine for 32Red staked over three-quarters of a million pounds before the casino finally suspended their account. That process took just over two years. Even then, the investigation into the client only began when the gambler scooped a seven-figure prize and placed that cash on another bet almost straightaway.
The casino owners are also obliged by the conditions laid down in gambling regulations to investigate the source of a gambler’s deposits if they seem unusually large. In this case, the customer was depositing around £45,000 each month, and yet their monthly income was only £2,150.
What other resources can problem gamblers use to seek help?
Gambling addiction is a serious concern. If you or anyone you know is experiencing issues with gambling, there is plenty of help around.
Firstly, it is possible to self-exclude from a casino website (or a bricks and mortar casino, if you regularly visit one nearby). This means you will be banned from going there or visiting the website and logging in for a set time. This is usually for six months at least, and sometimes for several years.
Visit a Gamblers Anonymous meeting
This is run in a similar way to Alcoholics Anonymous. The organisation provides meetings throughout the week all over the country, so there is a good chance there is a regular meeting near you. You can also join their online chat room, which makes it possible to find some support even when you are at home.
Get some therapy
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is said to be very useful in helping gambling addicts recover from their issues. It seeks to uncover and change the thoughts and behaviours that drive gambling in certain people. Some services provide online therapy, while others offer it via an appointment where you would see a therapist in person.
Use the NetLine
This is offered as part of the GamCare service and is a web chat service you can use between the hours of 8am and midnight, UK time. They also have a Freephone number you can use if you would rather speak to someone on the phone. Their frontline services also include a forum and chatroom, where you can speak to others in similar situations.
Recognising you or someone close to you has a problem is only the first step. The above resources can help you tackle problem gambling.