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Betting companies “merely paying lip service to safer gambling” Published Date: 13/11/2019

The Guardian is reporting that betting firms are recruiting specialist staff to lure high-spending “VIP” customers who lose significant sums of money.

It reported that VIP schemes have been cited in a succession of cases in which addicts were showered with free gifts as they racked up thousands of pounds of losses. But midway through the industry’s Responsible Gambling week a Guardian analysis of jobs websites suggests gambling firms have no plans to rein in the loyalty schemes.

One advert for a “VIP executive” to work at Gala Bingo’s online business, part of the GVC-owned Ladbrokes Coral group, states that candidates will be working to increase “overall player lifetime value and the revenue contribution for the VIP player base”.

It has been reported that applicants for the job are told they should contact the VIPs on a regular basis and “reach out to lapsed VIP players to try and reactivate dormant accounts”. The advert also states that staff members should do this while ensuring they are “following the responsible gambling guidelines”.

Charles Ritchie, of the charity Gambling with Lives, set up by parents bereaved by gambling related suicides, said: “This advert is particularly chilling – the end of a player’s ‘lifetime value’ to the company may well be the end of the player’s lifetime. The predatory practices of these gambling companies are designed to maintain and increase addiction. Suicide is highly correlated with gambling addiction.”

Carolyn Harris, who was the Labour MP for Swansea East and is the deputy leader of Welsh Labour[, chairs the group. She said: “These adverts are yet a further demonstration of the industry paying lip service to safer gambling measures. The Gambling Commission must undertake an urgent review of the operation of VIP accounts and the inducements which gambling companies use to entice customers to gamble.”