UK gambling operators are emphatically denying a wild claim that they’ve secretly been using the UK government’s Learning Records Service (LRS) database to target underage gamblers. The push back comes in the light of a recent Sunday London Times (subscription required) article that claimed the industry had accessed the database and is using it market directly to children.
At the heart of the flare up is the LRS database which contains the names and personal information of UK schoolchildren ages 14 and over. This massive database could, of course, be used to market gambling products to children, though the idea that any licensed operator would risk their license and reputation by something like that is pretty absurd all on its own.
Operators do, in fact, use information in the LRS database for their day-to-day business, but only to verify ages. The idea here being that this is an accurate database of UK children and if someone is attempting to create an account and they appear on it – they’re probably not 21.
The Betting and Gaming Council, a trade group that represents UK gaming operators strongly refuted the Sunday Times’ claim in an official statement saying, “Media reports that betting companies have access to the Learning Records Service database are untrue. GB Group provides age-verification services to a range of organisations from banks to government agencies and betting companies.
All betting companies are legally required to verify the age of people who wish to join to ensure that they are over the age of 18, the only information GB Group provides is confirmation or rejection that the applicant is over the age of 18.”
While the gaming industry has been accused of marketing to children in the past, almost all of those cases have been extremely subject (the use of cartoon characters for example). But none of those cases rises to the level of the unfounded accusations made in the Sunday Times article. The idea that operators would market directly to children in this manner simply doesn’t make sense.