Gambling firms could use GPS location services to target customers

Experts have warned that gambling firms could utilise GPS location services to track and target vulnerable customers with specific targeted adverts and offers.

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Experts have warned that gambling firms could use location data to target vulnerable customers. © Pexels.

For example, attendees of a football match could be prompted with notifications and encouraged to bet on that match.

Experts say that these targeted prompts are much more likely to lead to betting than standard advertisements.

Bookmakers haven’t widely admitted to the practice of targeting customers via geographic locations, but it is believed the practice could soon be employed.

The problem gambling charity GambleAware commented on the issue, saying that companies:

…have the ability to collect significant amounts of customer data, including their location. While some progress is being made to use customer data to identify and minimise gambling-related harm, much more needs to be done to tackle unacceptable marketing and advertising. Marc Etches, CEO of GambleAware

The belief that gambling firms specifically target the most vulnerable customers is also nothing new.

An investigation by the Guardian last year found that gambling operators were using third-party firms to target users on low incomes.

These companies would harvest user data on age, income, credit and much more. This data can then be segmented into different demographics and attributes, with analysis then used to create tailored effective adverts by gambling firms and affiliates. One researcher for a firm analysing such data said that those on low incomes were one of the most targeted demographics.

It was also discovered that operators employed dynamic re-targeting, which involved sending users who hadn’t made a bet in some time a prompt to get back into betting.

Whatever the method, gambling firms must abide by transparency laws. All processing of personal data to be used in online advertising must be done in accordance with data protection law.

The issue also raises the question of how gambling companies utilise the personal data they hold on their millions of customers.

But gambling bosses have made it clear that the data doesn’t have to be for nefarious purposes. Through data such as customers’ addresses, gambling firms can get an idea on how much users can afford to lose at their sites and thus be ready to quickly intervene should spending levels increase past the norm.

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