After two years of extensive research on this topic, Simon Davies founder of Privacy International concluded that the protection of a gamblers’ privacy fails to comply with some basic principles of data protection.
Online Gambling Data Protection
His research indicated that “malpractice” is very widespread in the licensed online gambling industry.
More often than not, gambling operators will seek out jurisdictions where the tax laws are more relaxed, these include countries such as Gibraltar, Malta, Jersey, the Isle of Man, Antigua and Barbuda, and Guernsey.
Davies referred to his research results: “This flourishing economic sector swims in an ocean of institutional illegality that places tens of millions of its customers at risk.
“There is a handful of online operators who, to some extent, make an effort at fairness and compliance. There are also examples of regulators who have attempted to do their job. By and large, though, the online gambling industry operates its personal information practices in lawless territory.
“The rights and protections that we should enjoy are being flouted by an industry that uses its unique economic positioning to confound regulators and induce small jurisdictions into submission,” Davies stressed.
The biggest problem with data protection in this mammoth industry is that users who register at online gambling sites must provide a lot of personal information. “It is routine for sites to demand passport and credit scans, drivers’ licences, utility bills and other personal documents. All the available evidence indicates that this information is stored permanently,” he pointed out.
In addition, if a customer wants to close an account and have all the data deleted, most of the times companies do not comply with such requests. This contravenes the third and fifth principles of the Data Protection Act. They prefer to store the gambler’s data in case the gambler returns.
Davies said, “It is extremely difficult to close an online gambling account and, in my experience, impossible to have your data deleted.”
He concluded by saying that many governments fail to address this issue and tend to sweep it under the carpet. He said that when he filed a complaint with the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) in the UK, after three months the file was closed, the ICO claimed that this matter does not merit further investigation.