Bookmaker software investigated after it is alleged to collect betting data

  • Bookmaker software may allegedly be in breach of data protection law
  • Survey of gamblers finds 4,000 accounts restricted in space of six months

The UK Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has launched an investigation into whether bookmakers who operate online are breaking data protection law through the use of certain software.

According to the a report by the BBC online, the organisation recently found in favour of two gamblers who had protested that online bookmakers had downloaded software on to their devices without their permission. Their contention was that the software was being used to track their betting records.

UK ICO bookmaker
The Information Comissioner’s Office is investigating software that allegedly collects personal data

The software involved is named iesnare or iovation and is automatically downloaded when gamblers log on to certain bookmakers’ sites. One of the gamblers told a BBC radio programme that he identified the software by first cleaning his hard drive, and then visiting the Skybet site, whereupon iesnare appeared on his computer within two seconds.

Fraud prevention

Bookmakers who use the software deny that they are operating illegally. A spokesperson for Skybet said that they use the software to identify fraudulent behaviour and alert customers to its use on their website and in their privacy policy.

But some people fear that the software is being used to identify successful gamblers as a prelude to closing their accounts. These fears are shared by the horse racing industry, which is concerned that many gamblers are unable to bet, and so are turning away from the sport.

A survey conducted by the Horseracing Bettors Forum in 2016 asked its members whether they had experienced difficulties placing bets. Over 850 people responded to the survey and reported the closure of over 1,000 accounts, with 4,000 examples of account restrictions.

One punter that apparently reported the issue to the ICO said that they told him data gathered by this software constitutes personal information – something that hasn’t been confirmed by the ICO. A spokesperson for the ICO said that its investigations would centre on whether bookmakers are being sufficiently open about their use of the technology.

OUR VERDICT

Bookmakers will argue that they most certainly are being sufficiently open what technology they are using to facilitate your online casino activity, and in reality they are. It’s often the case that such software is used to monitor activity, to help the bookmakers and casinos remain vigilant about fraud and to ultimately give you a better – and safer – experience. It’s important to note that the manufacturers of the software say they have no access to player information or data. What does it teach you players? Whenever you’re using a service, and this counts for anything in life and not just online casinos, read the small print, the privacy policies and any other ‘important’ information. You can then decide whether you want to use the service and be in control of your online activity.

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