IOC Gives the Green Light to Customer Data Sharing

Gambling operators have been advised to act fast to introduce a single customer view after the Information Commissioner’s Office gives the green light to sharing customer data. The ICO states information-sharing software to prevent consumer harm does not breach data protection laws.

data sharing

Operators Can Share Customer Information After IOC Ruling © Pixabay.

UK-licensed operators have been urged to quickly adopt an industry-wide “single customer view” (SCV). The call comes after the Information Commissioner’s Office deemed sharing consumer information to prevent multiple account opening and prevent harm from gamblers at risk would not be in breach of existing data laws.

The proposed SCV would allow stakeholders to see an all-inclusive view of a customer’s online gambling activity, allowing easier identification of clients displaying habits that indicate harm from gambling. The platform would also enable a view of how many accounts a customer has and with which companies.

In practice, this ruling means that a customer of 888 whose account has been flagged for signs of harmful gambling behaviour and has their account blocked would no longer go to another online operator, for example, bet365 and open a new account. This prevention would be because the new operator will have access to the indicators on the customer’s account and would be unable to open an account for them.

Many industry experts have long held the view that operators in isolation cannot prevent harmful gambling and joined-up thinking between companies is the way to make meaningful change.

Rob Davies, who writes industry news for The Guardian, Tweeted:

Significant news for the gambling industry. The ICO has advised the Gambling Commission that a “single customer view” approach, where multiple bookies can share info about their customers, is workable under data protection law. He continues: In theory, this means companies can share data about people losing huge sums and intervene sooner. At the moment, William Hill might do the right thing and shut down your account, but you can just open an account with Bet365 and lose your shirt there instead.

The Gambling Commission (UKGC) had told stakeholders in February last year that it wanted them to work together to discuss and develop an SCV. The regulator also was in consultation with the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC), the trade body representing gambling companies’ interests.

A spokesperson for the BGC said: “We note the report from the ICO and will now work through its findings in detail.

“Work on the industry’s own trial has been ongoing for some time, and we now look forward to progressing with it in discussion with the Gambling Commission and ICO.”

Industry insiders believe it is highly likely that once an SCV is in place, the UKGC will make it a condition of issuing a licence that operators use an SCV. This condition will be inserted by either a change to gambling legislation following the UK government’s review into the Gambling Act 2005 or amending its Licence of Conditions and Codes of Practice.

The UKGC said of the ICO ruling: “The publication of the ICO’s report provides an important and helpful steer on how an SCV could be delivered in accordance with data protection law,”

“However, there are still plenty of issues and complexities that need to be addressed as part of a pilot phase of work.” said the UKGC.

Chris Philp, who recently became Gambling Minister, said of the ruling: “We are determined to tackle problem gambling, and we are undertaking a comprehensive review of our gambling laws to ensure they are fit for the digital age.

“I welcome the ICO’s findings that data can be shared safely and securely between operators to prevent problem gamblers running up crippling losses.

“It is essential that more action is taken to prevent people becoming dangerously addicted to gambling to the point that lives can be ruined.”

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