Responding to recent media reports which alleged that UK betting firms had been engaging with breached data from the ‘Learning Records Service’ educational index, the Betting and Gaming Council (Betting and Gaming Council) has stated that the allegations ‘are categorically untrue.’
In a statement on its website, the BGC reiterated that all betting companies are legally required to conduct age verification checks, and that the data used by the GB Group ‘is a crucial way in which operators prevent underage gambling.’
The statement said: “Recent media reports suggested that betting companies had access to an educational database – the Learning Records Service – which includes the personal details of 28 million pupils aged 14 and above from state and private schools and colleges across the UK. The development was framed as one of the ‘biggest breaches of government data’. These stories are categorically untrue.
“All betting companies are legally required to verify the age of people who wish to join to ensure that they are over the age of 18. Some of our members have used GB Group to assist with age verification checks.
“This involves our members providing GB Group with the name, address and date of birth of the individual who has applied to open an account. GB Group then matches the information against data from multiple databases, via secure and encrypted API connections.
“A simple ‘Match’ or ‘No Match’ is returned to our member company, which confirms or not if the applicant has provided true information on their application. This therefore confirms or otherwise that the applicant is over the age of 18. The service provided by GB Group has had a significant positive impact on ensuring that no one under the age of 18 is permitted to open a betting account or place a bet online.
“Rather than being a means to induce young people towards gambling, this data usage is a crucial way in which operators prevent underage gambling.”
The allegations of using breached data has come at a turbulent time for the betting industry, with a number of betting companies coming under increased scrutiny from the UK media and government.
Earlier this month, the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) carried out an investigation into the live streaming contracts of bookmakers which allowed bet365, Betfair, William Hill, Coral, Ladbrokes, Unibet and Paddy Power to broadcast FA Cup matches – an arrangement criticised by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).
The BGC addressed the scrutiny: “At the BGC, we are acutely aware of the scrutiny currently levelled at our industry, from the public, politicians and the media. But in this important dialogue, it is crucial that media outlets are facilitators of the truth. In this instance, contrary to these reports, data is used to protect a vulnerable group of society from betting and gaming illegally, not to encourage them to do so.
“Indeed, a recent report by the Gambling Commission illustrated how measures such as these have significantly restricted the occurrence of underage gambling. The forms of gambling that are most prevalent among those aged under 18 are the purchase of national lottery tickets or playing cards with family and friends.
“Our members operate a zero-tolerance policy for any individuals engaging with betting and gaming under the legal age. Our members’ relationship with age-verification companies is one vital way we ensure that those underage don’t gamble with our members.”