Betting companies need to track certain information of their customers for legal reasons, largely to ensure things like money laundering can’t take place. They also need to make certain that customers don’t have gambling problems, which involves more tracking of a customer’s data. The key question is what they track and what they do with the information that they glean from their tracking.
The answer, in short, is that they track pretty much everything. They’ll keep track of when you log in, how you long you spend doing certain things and what each click you make influences during your time logged in on the site. Though they do so for entirely legal reasons, it does allow a gambling company to build a profile of its users that can be used to make offers that they know the punter is more likely to accept.
The only way to bet with no tracking is to use cash in store or in a casino, although even there if you are a regular visitor you will still be tracked.
Why Betting Companies Track Information
The foremost reason for a betting company to track information of a customer is in order to comply with certain legal requirements. Gambling companies need to know where you are physically located in order to ensure that they are complying with their licensing agreement in any given country, for example. They also need to ensure that you’re over the age of 18, given that that is the legal betting age in most countries.
There is also a necessity for a gambling company to monitor how you bet and how much you wager, largely in order to to ensure that you don’t develop a gambling problem or that if you do then help can be offered. There are some uses of tracking that are designed to be helpful, even if they don’t seem it. A company that knows you always bet on horse racing, say, can tailor promotions towards horse racing bets for you.
Whilst legal compliance is a big part of the reasoning behind a betting company’s ability to track you online, it would be a lie to suggest that they don’t get anything else out of it. Given that virtually every click you make whilst you’re logged in is monitored, it’s fair to suggest that betting companies are able to build fairly accurate profiles of their users that can tell them a huge heap of information.
The bigger the gambling company, the more they’ll be able to do with the information that they learn from their customers. If they have multiple brands too and you have accounts with them then information will be shared across that network.
There are numerous reasons for this, not the least of which is that the more information that you’re given, the more you can then do with it. The likes of spending habits, how much you win and lose and what it is that you bet on will all feed into the information that the companies are using.
They can then use it for two purposes: overall market decisions and individual assessments. When it comes to the latter, the information is fed into what are known as ‘Risk Teams’. It is their job to assess how much of a risk to a company’s profits you pose as a gambler. In terms of the former, the information will be used to shape marketing choices and advertising decisions to attract more customers.
It’s also worth remembering that the increase in takeovers and partnerships within the betting world means that your information is unlikely to remain with just one company. Ladbrokes and Coral both come under the same umbrella, for example, whilst Paddy Power and Betfair are both part of Flutter Entertainment. A bet with Paddy Power means Betfair will have you information and the same is true for Ladbrokes and Coral.
It is not uncommon to have your account limited by one brand in a group, say Coral, then immediately have your account limited with Ladbrokes. You may not have done anything with Ladbrokes that deserves your account being limited but the fact they share information means they can do this.
There are some specific reasons your information can be tracked, with the following being a good outline:
|When You’re Online||The amount of time that you spend online can be a good indicator of if you’re developing a gambling problem. Similarly, if you always tend to bet at a certain time and this changes, that could be flagged up as a potential issue.|
|Duplicate Accounts||Information such as your address, telephone number and email address is used in order to ensure that you’re unable to open up duplicate accounts with the same bookmaker.|
|Stake Limits||Betting sites don’t like losing money. If you’re particularly good at winning it from them then they might introduce a stake limit. Equally, if you tend to lose money on a certain sport then your stake limit on that sport might be increased.|
|Matched Betting & Arbing||Whilst sites that offer exchange betting don’t really care about matched betting and arming because they make they money regardless, fixed odds sportsbooks are not a fan and will look to shutdown accounts that are guilty of it.|
|Banking Issues||Money laundering is the most obvious factor when it comes to banking issues for betting sites, but they’ll also look to monitor your withdrawals and deposits. Those that suddenly shift from depositing hundreds of pounds to thousands might have developed a betting problem.|
|Responsible Gambling||Perhaps the key factor behind tracking customers’ information as far as the United Kingdom Gambling Commission is concerned is ensuring that punters gamble responsibly. Indeed, fines have been issued to companies that have failed to do so in recent years.|
How The Tracking Works
Betting companies are big business and employ specialists whose job it is to figure out how to track their customers. The most obvious one used is via your I.P. address, which stops people opening multiple accounts from the same household. It also allows them to know your physical location and whether or not you’re legally allowed to place bets with them in the country that you are in.
Some bettors attempt to get around the tracking of their I.P. address by using a Virtual Private Network. A VPN can also be used to place bets when you’re in a country that doesn’t allow gambling by ‘spoofing’ an address in a country that does. There is often something in the small print of a bookmaker’s site that forbids this, however, meaning that your account can be closed if you’re found to be doing it.
Cookies are another way that a gambling company is able to track you online, though it would be unfair to suggest that’s something that is limited to gambling companies. Cookies are used to monitor the likes of the time that you landed on a page, even if you didn’t login, through to which parts of the site you visit. They allow sites to load quicker, but they also provide targeted advertising and so on.
The majority of gambling companies that have both a high street and an online presence have cards that allow people to combine their online and offline accounts. If you’ve signed up for one of these then you’ll get numerous benefits, but you’ll also be giving the betting company the ability to track your off-site gambling as well as what you do online. There’s nothing wrong with this, of course, but it’s worth noting.
Can You Bet Without Being Tracked?
It’s impossible to bet online with a licensed operator without being tracked and it is highly inadvisable to bet with non-licensed sites as that often leads to people losing money, as well as being illegal.
The only true way to bet without being tracked is to do so in betting shops, casinos, arcades or bingo halls in cash. Even here if you are a repeat visitor you can guarantee there is some level of tracking, even if it is just by the shop manager. This is done on the pretense to enforce responsible gambling and prevent crime but of course it is also used so they can find persistent winners and ban them.
If you really want to bet without tracking you will need to vary where you bet, although for many that is a hassle in itself. If you also bet higher stakes you will likely need to prove source of funds, even if it is cash you are using, as that is another legal requirement for operators.
In summary tracking is largely used to protect you and the industry but of course the silver lining for the sites is they have all of the information they ever need to profile you as an individual and gamblers as a whole.