Ladbrokes could face an investigation from the gambling regulator over an incident in which confidential information about betting addicts, including photos, names and addresses, was found in a bin bag on the street.
The Gambling Commission said it was looking into the bookmaker’s compliance with data protection laws after a passer-by found the sensitive documents outside a branch of Ladbrokes in Glasgow.
The data included personal details of customers who signed up for the betting industry’s multi-operator self-exclusion scheme (Moses), which allows problem gamblers to ban themselves from placing bets voluntarily.
Bookmakers carry information about customers who have signed up to the Moses system to help shop staff identify customers who should not be allowed to bet.
The information includes their names, addresses, photographs and information about why they have chosen to exclude themselves but does not include bank account numbers or detailed information about their betting history.
The Gambling Commission said it was looking into why such sensitive data was not disposed of in a way that ensured customer’s personal information was protected.
“Customers trust that their personal data will be collected carefully and then protected properly,” said the Gambling Commission executive director, Tim Miller.
“We expect gambling operators to adhere to all data protection laws or regulations, which are enforced by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).
“In an instance where personal data has been breached, we would expect operators to do whatever they can to mitigate any harm caused.”
Ladbrokes usually collects such data from its stores and disposes of it securely through a company-wide procedure.
A statement on the Moses website reads: “Your personal details are kept confidential and only shared with the participating bookmakers their group companies’ and the central team administrators.”
Ladbrokes did not say how the information ended up in a bin bag on the street. But a spokesperson said: “We are taking this extremely seriously and [are] undertaking a full investigation.”
Ladbrokes is understood to have written to all of its shops reminding them of the need to dispose of sensitive information in the right way.
It has also begun an internal investigation to be sure that its procedures are as watertight as possible, according to the Scottish Sun.
Marc Etches, chief executive of leading charity GambleAware, said: “We really hope this situation does not put anyone off using self-exclusion, as research we published in March found that 83% of those who have used it found the scheme to be effective, although we would always recommend professional treatment alongside such measures.
“Self-exclusion is often a last resort for those already suffering from a gambling addiction and it’s important we identify those who are at risk as early as possible and prevent problems developing.”
Individual bookmakers have their own self-exclusion scheme but also use the industry-wide scheme Moses, managed by a responsible-gambling body called the Senet Group, founded by four major bookmakers in 2014.
Gamblers can voluntarily self-exclude for a year, a binding decision that cannot be reversed during the period.
At the end of the year, the self-exclusion will remain in place automatically for six months, unless the customer requests otherwise.