How GDPR Affects The Online Gambling Industry

  • Updated
  • By Katie Thompson
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What is GDPR?

The General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR, is the latest in European Union legislation that strives to protect the personal data of millions of EU citizens, including you.

Concerning EU businesses, charities and other organisations large and small, it affects anybody holding data on EU residents.

From May 25 2018, any of the above-mentioned bodies who are seen to be non-compliant with the strict set of new data handling rules could be subject to astronomical fines.

Although it’s been public knowledge since 2016, this hasn’t stopped GDPR from ruffling feathers across all industries and staff members within individual organisations. From employee data to customer data, how exactly does GDPR affect the online gambling industry?

Data transparency across all industries

Above all, the new ruling seeks to provide transparency, both for the persons handling the data and those whose data is being handled – yours.

It also affects consent; for example, those signing up to a new service will not simply ‘tick a box’ to give limitless consent to their data being used – this process is far more strict, and access to data will become more readily available, should a person ask for it.

The same principles will be applied to online gambling. The data affected includes, but isn’t limited to customer payment details, age, location and playing history.

Online gambling operators hold personal data for a plethora of reasons, for example for their own protection i.e. payment details, or for marketing purposes (to send you great deals). As online gambling operators are no strangers to compliance, they are already familiar with data protection practices, and follow initiatives such as Know Your Customer.

Know your customer – what information does my online gambling operator have on me?

Before we can begin to understand how GDPR will make changes to online gamers, firstly it’s important for us to know, as players, exactly how much of our information online gambling operators need to store.

In the United Kingdom, the Know Your Customer (KYC) scheme is underpinned by the Money Laundering Regulations 2017.

As such, in order to prevent unlawful practices such as underage gambling or money laundering, UK online gambling operators are legally required to carry out checks on their prospective customers, which may involve obtaining data such as a customer’s:

  • House number
  • Postcode
  • Recent changes of address
  • Date of birth

This data will likely be collected using personal documents such as passports or driving licences with photo ID, as well as proof of address from something like a recent council tax bill.

How will the GDPR affect me as an online player?

With all online gambling operators now having to be more careful with data, they must first be able to produce evidence of consent.

Therefore, rather than simply serving customers with a pre-ticked box, the details of consent must be:

  • Clear and different from other matters
  • Understandable and easily available
  • Use clear and plain language
  • As easy to withdraw as they are to give

In simple terms, this means that online gambling websites will have to make it extremely clear when you, the player, are expected to give your personal data. Also, options to have your data removed will also be made more readily available.

Claiming back your data

While players will now be better informed about when they are consenting to give up their personal information, they will also have more rights when it comes to checking this, and, if necessary, withdrawing.

Just as a company’s employees can ask to see a copy of the data the company has on them, so too can a player ask for full details of any data stored as of May 25 2018.

The main point of this is to “empower data subjects”, according to the EU. With more rights, players, or “data subjects” will soon be able to obtain their data from the data controller (i.e. the gambling operator) and ask for details on how and where it is being used.

And remember, this data must legally be provided free of charge.

Perhaps even more empowering for players is the new “right to be forgotten.” This means that a player can ask to have all his or her data removed, if they so wish.

This can be extra reassuring for players who no longer want to be associated with these companies.

Will GDPR affect my gaming experience?

The GDPR has been put into place with data subjects’ rights in mind, so the new rules shouldn’t have any impact on your online bingo fun.

The new transparency surrounding player consent may come as a surprise to some players as of May 25, but before long it will become the norm, just like cookie notifications when web browsing.

Those who choose to withhold their personal data from being used for marketing purposes may find that they do not have as much access to deals and offers as they did previously, but this is a completely personal choice and can be amended as per the desires of the player.

With such strict regulation, players can be assured that their data is now being looked after more carefully and will not fall into the wrong hands, helping to provide a better online gaming experience for everyone.