In the United Kingdom and the government’s Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) has reportedly launched an official investigation amid allegations that several iGaming brands including 32Red and Betfair may have been given illicit access to the protected information of some 28 million British children.
According to a report from The Sunday Times newspaper, the Learning Records Service (LRS) database contains the names, ages and addresses of children enrolled in schools and colleges across England, Northern Ireland and Wales. The newspaper explained that this resource is primarily utilized to verify the grades pupils have earned as part of their General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) qualifications.
However, the newspaper used a Sunday report to detail that local identity management firm GB Group may have illicitly supplied some of this data to iGaming operators as it has the ability to access the LRS database through a confidential contract with another company. The publication stated that the Chester-headquartered enterprise also does business with online casino brands such as Betfair and 32Red and could have illegally leaked the protected information as part of an attempt to ‘increase the proportion of young people who gamble online’.
The Sunday Times reported that the Department for Education reacted to these allegations by immediately disabling the database and referring the whole matter to the Information Commissioner’s Office. A spokesperson for the watchdog purportedly proclaimed that authorities were now ‘making enquiries’ while the British government’s Minister for Education, Gavin Williamson (pictured), is said to have told regulators to ‘leave no stone unturned’ as part of their investigations.
Reportedly read a statement from the Department for Education…
“We have not shared any data with GB Group. An education training provider wrongly provided access to this data and broke their agreement with us. This was completely unacceptable and we have immediately stopped the firm’s access and ended our agreement with them. We will be taking the strongest possible action.”
The ESFA reportedly told the newspaper that it is conducting a full investigation into who has access to the LRS database ‘to make sure this doesn’t happen again’ while a spokesperson for GB Group purportedly pronounced that the firm had utilized the protected information as part of a deal with employment screening company Trust Systems Software (UK), which trades under the Trustopia moniker.
A response from GB Group reportedly read…
“We can confirm that we use the LRS dataset via a third party. We take claims of this nature very seriously and, depending on the results of our review, we will take appropriate action.”
‘Untrue and unfounded’:
For its part, 32Red reportedly told a source that any allegations it may have utilized the LRS information were ‘untrue and unfounded’ as it has ‘zero tolerance on under-age gambling.’ The iGaming brand is owned by Maltese online casino operator Kindred Group and moreover purportedly proclaimed that it is ‘legally required to verify a number of criteria’ for anyone wishing to use its services including that ‘they are over the age of 18.’
Reportedly read the proclamation from 32Red…
“The only information 32Red has access to is confirmation or rejection that the person requesting to open an account with us is over the age of 18 and not specific details about that person. While we understand there is heightened scrutiny on the gambling sector at present, it is vital reporting remains accurate and based on evidence and facts.”
Finally, it was detailed that Betfair has similarly denied any allegations of wrongdoing and used its own Monday statement to describe the claims contained within The Sunday Times’ piece as ‘completely untrue.’
Betfair’s statement reportedly read…
“In fact, the reverse is true; we use the [GB Group] solely for age and identity verification services to ensure no customer can open an account without confirming they are 18.”