In the United Kingdom, the Gambling Commission regulator is reportedly set to seek assurances from giant bookmaker, Ladbrokes Coral Group, that it is not incentivizing staff to push play on its collection of fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs).

Looming stake reduction:

According to a Friday report from The Guardian newspaper, the London-headquartered operator could soon be forced to shed up to 5,000 high street jobs as a result of new rules set to come into force from the first day of April that will see the maximum single stake on the video slot-like FOBTs cut from £100 ($128.88) down to £2 ($2.57).

Incentivization claims:

In response to the expected loss of income, The Guardian reported that Ladbrokes Coral supposedly instituted policies last year that has seen employees given performance targets linked to maximizing revenues from its self-service betting terminals, FOBTs and online sportsbetting services.

Conflict of interest:

The Gambling Commission declared that such an alleged strategy represents a conflict of interest because it forces staff to choose between keeping their jobs or intervening in order to stop any customer that might be showing signs of developing an addiction to gambling.

Newspaper investigation:

The Guardian reported that it only uncovered the suspected policy shift as a result of its own investigations and subsequently informed the Gambling Commission, which is now due to speak with Ladbrokes about the claims.

The Gambling Commission to The Guardian…

“Our remit doesn’t extend to commenting about any operator’s consultation processes with its employees but we will be seeking assurances from Ladbrokes Coral [Group] that it is marketing to customers in as responsible a manner as possible; such as not targeting vulnerable customers and alerting customers to the gambling management tools available.”

Operator offerings:

For its part, Ladbrokes responded to the newspaper’s allegations by proclaiming that it has ‘always offered a range of colleague reward and incentive packages’ that are connected to a variety of its business areas including ‘the success of multi-channel’. It moreover purportedly stated that one of these omni-channel innovations, its Grid and Connect service, was launched four years ago and is now regularly utilized by customers ‘to access our services across both retail and online.’

In a statement from Ladbrokes…

“In this increasingly digital age, the success of these offerings is critical to the commercial viability of high street betting shops, as is the case for most major high street retailers.”