UK gambling operators have been warned to tread carefully when using non-disclosure agreements (NDA) to resolve disputes with their customers.
On Thursday, the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) issued an industry warning after becoming aware that some of its licensees “have been including non-disclosure clauses within settlement agreements with consumers.”
The UKGC noted that, while there were certain commercial contexts in which NDAs were appropriate, it was concerned that some NDAs “may have had the effect of preventing consumers from reporting regulatory concerns to us, by either excluding disclosure to any third party or, in some cases, explicitly preventing customers from contacting” the regulator.
The UKGC wants to ensure that NDA’s don’t result in consumers feeling they can’t report dodgy conduct to any regulator or law enforcement agency. The UKGC also wants to ensure that problem gamblers can “freely discuss their gambling history with treatment providers.”
The UKGC’s warning comes just one month after GVC Holdings’ Ladbrokes brand was found to have used an NDA to resolve complaints filed by five individuals whose money was stolen and then gambled away by a Ladbrokes VIP customer.
In exchange for Ladbrokes repaying £975k of the stolen funds to these five individuals, the company required them to “agree not to bring any complaint or make any report to any regulator in relation to the claim.”
Ladbrokes insisted at the time that such language was standard operating procedure and that the company had notified the UKGC of the situation “at the relevant time.” The UKGC launched a probe of the situation and will likely be announcing yet another six- or seven-figure financial penalty in short order.
UK BOOSTING EFFORTS TO REDUCE GAMBLING HARM
Meanwhile, the industry’s efforts to reduce gambling harm got some sorely needed shots in the arm in the past couple weeks. On Thursday, the industry-funded GambleAware charity announced it had teamed with the Royal Society for Public Health to establish the new Gambling Health Alliance (GHA).
The GHA’s stated goal over its initial three-year period is to develop a “more coherent approach” to reducing gambling-related harm. This will be done by placing the subject “on an equal footing with other major public health challenges, focusing on prevention, early intervention, and increased community engagement.”
Earlier this month, the UK government signaled its intention to build more dedicated facilities to address problem gambling. There is currently only one such facility in the UK, the National Problem Gambling Clinic in London, which GambleAware helps support.
Individual operators are also stepping up to the plate. Last week, GVC announced its new global responsible gambling campaign, Changing for the Bettor. The campaign will include GVC spending $5m over the next five years on a new partnership with the Division of Addiction at the Cambridge Health Alliance, a Harvard Medical School teaching hospital.