Top bookies take almost 40 per cent of their deposits from big-losing ‘VIP’ customers
- Britain’s five biggest bookies reveal how much money they take from big betters
- Ladbrokes Coral gets 38 per cent of its deposits from just 1.4 per cent of clients
- Figures are likely to represent hundreds of millions, fuelling calls for action to help problem gamblers
Britain’s top bookmakers take up to 38 per cent of their deposits from the big losers they designate as ‘VIPs’, their bosses revealed yesterday.
The firms give their highest spending customers ‘VIP’ status and shower them with free tickets to sporting events and cash bonuses to lure them to bet more.
Yesterday, the bosses of the UK’s five biggest gambling companies — Bet365, Ladbrokes Coral, William Hill, SkyBet and PaddyPower Betfair — admitted for the first time how much money they take from so-called VIPs.
Ladbrokes Coral’s owner GVC receives 38 per cent of its deposits from big-spending clients who make up just 1.4 per cent of its customers. William Hill takes a fifth of its deposits from VIPs, who make up just 0.6 per cent of its total customer base.
William Hill was among the UK’s five biggest gambling firms who have revealed for the first time how much money they take from so-called VIPs
The figures are likely to represent hundreds of millions. GVC rakes in £2.49 billion in revenue from punters each year, while William Hill makes £1.6 billion.
The bosses of Bet365, PaddyPower’s owner Flutter and Skybet said their firms take between 1 per cent and 2 per cent of their deposits from customers designated VIPs. The shocking figures lay bare the gambling industry’s dependence on high-spending VIPs who are 11 times more like to become addicted to betting than others, according to Gambling Commission research.
Yesterday, at a two-hour grilling by members of the House of Lords, the bosses were told the ‘predatory’ VIP schemes ‘played on the vulnerabilities’ of customers.
Baroness Thornhill, a Liberal Democrat peer, said: ‘We’ve had evidence that a large percentage of your deposits come from a small percentage of your users.
‘I feel the whole way the schemes are set out was predatory and played on vulnerability of people. It is certainly something we would be concerned about.’
Kenny Alexander, chief executive of GVC, admitted the way the industry targeted big spenders was ‘too aggressive’, and said he was working with other companies on a code of conduct to police the schemes.
VIP schemes have become enormously controversial, regularly featuring in disciplinary action from the regulator, the Gambling Commission.
Ladbrokes Coral was fined £5.9 million last June over failings that included letting a player bet £1.5 million without asking if he could afford to lose the huge sum. The Mail revealed this month that Ben Jones, 30, was offered tickets to watch his favourite teams by VIP hosts — even as he bet £370,000 of cash stolen from his employer.
The House of Lords select committee on gambling will make recommendations that will feed into an ongoing Government review of the Gambling Act 2005.
Campaigners have said bookmakers are unwilling to make changes to VIP schemes because they are so reliant on revenue from big-spending customers.
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