Gambling addictions are a true problem for citizens of the UK. Senior lecturer at Lancaster University, Dr. Carolyn Downs is an expert on the gambling industry and gambling addictions, and she estimates that approximately 500,000 gamblers in the UK classify themselves as having a severe addiction.
Citizen, David Bradford, experienced an incredibly severe addiction. At 57 years old, he was imprisoned for fraud after a stealing a total of £50,000. The severity of his addiction left his family nearly £500,000 in debt. They also lost their home.
However, that didn’t stop 888.com from sending him adverts to his mobile phone. His son, Adam, noticed this, and each advert cost £5. Adam called the company multiple times, begging them to stop sending the adverts. He called a total of six times after the charges escalated to £100, and 888.com finally quit sending the adverts.
As this happens more often than one would think, Dr. Carolyn Downs said “And for each of those people with severe problems, you're looking at four or five other family members being severely affected. Who perhaps don't know that their family member is a problem gambler until they lose the house, ” which is exactly what happened for the Bradford family.
The gambling industry has been buzzing about 888.com’s record fine of £7.8 million from the Gambling Commission. The fine was instated because 888.com did not protect thousands of their customers from their own addictions, which is part of an online casino’s duty in this industry. Customers who attempted to “self-exclude” themselves from the site found themselves able to log into their accounts and gamble despite recognizing their addiction and attempting to fix it.
888.com also refused to recognize that one of their patron’s problems had become so severe that they ended up stealing £55,000 from their employer.
Casinos receive fines like this from the Gambling Commission partly to punish the individual company for their wrongdoing but also to show other companies that they cannot just refuse to follow their guidelines and treat their customers unfairly.
What surprised most people was the fact that 888 essentially turned themselves in. 888 Holdings owns 888.com, and they notified the Gambling Commission about the problem. It was a technical issue for 888.com but the investigation uncovered a number of issues with the online casino industry.
For instance, the commission found that it was incredibly hard to actually find the page that allows players to self-exclude from the casinos. This is a huge problem because gamblers often only have a moment to recognize their problem and self-exclude before they convince themselves not to. If finding the self-exclusion page on a site takes a few minutes, then the gambler will convince themselves not to self-exclude in those few minutes.
The Gambling Commission will continue to crack down on issues like these, and casinos will hopefully make it easier to self-exclude, protecting their patrons from gambling addiction.