Privacy Matters: Understanding Data Privacy and Compliance in Online Gambling

Dean McHugh
3 July 2023
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You’ve registered with an online casino and are excited about the online gambling experience you’re about to embark on. But a wave of nervousness washes over you. They’ve asked for your information, sensitive information, and it’s information that you don’t feel too comfortable sharing.

You may ask yourself why the online casino needs this data? What will they be doing with them? And perhaps even, how will they ensure the privacy of this data? These are all valid questions to be asking. And in this modern age of identity theft and tech-savvy swindlers, being cautious about data sharing is prudent.

Fortunately, there are rules and regulations that govern the operation of gambling activities and data privacy compliance that ensure that online casinos adhere to certain laws that protect individuals’ information.

By understanding these regulations and how they affect data privacy, players are able to navigate the registration process smoothly and efficiently, having the peace of mind that their data is protected and that they can gamble without fear of being the target of any nefarious activities.

Why Do Online Casinos Need My Personal Information?

Online gambling organisations need to do KYC (know your customer) verification before allowing you to start gambling on your online account. This verification process basically comes down to the online casino being sure that you are who you say you are, and that you’re eligible to use an online gambling platform.

They will collect personal information, such as your name, age, and address, usually in the form of a government-issued identification document to establish your identity and that you are of legal age to gamble.

By following a strict KYC verification procedure, online casinos can prevent fraud and money laundering and thus maintain the integrity of their gambling platforms.

Money laundering is the act of transforming funds that have been obtained through illegal activities into legitimate funds using gambling platforms. Strict AML (anti-money laundering) regulations are therefore needed to prevent this from happening.

By following AML regulations, online casinos are able to keep a closer eye on transactions and spot anything suspicious. They can then promptly alert the relevant authorities. This helps deter things like terrorist financing and other financial crimes within the gambling industry.

There are several other reasons for online gaming platforms to collect the personal information of their users, reasons that make for a better gaming experience for the users. Using a player’s personal information can help online casinos create a more personalised experience by tailoring the content and game features of a player’s gaming account. They can also target their marketing campaigns more precisely because they can base them on a player’s individual preferences and interests.

How Do Online Casinos Protect My Data?

The simple answer is that every reputable online gambling organisation follows the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation). The GDPR provides online casinos with a comprehensive data protection framework drafted by legal experts. Through a series of consultations, discussions and negotiations, these experts were able to put together a set of principles revolving around data privacy.

These GDPR principles are based on the five pillars of data privacy, and each pillar has its own implication for online gambling. The five pillars of privacy are:

1. Consent

Before online casinos can process a player’s personal information, they have to obtain consent; this consent has to be not only voluntary but also informed. The online gambling organisation, therefore, has to inform the players of the exact process that they follow with regard to the processing of data. Online casinos have to guarantee that they are going to process the data lawfully and that it will not be used for illegal activities. As a player, it is important that you understand exactly how an online casino will handle your personal information.

2. Purpose Limitation

It’s been established that specific reasons exist for collecting a player’s personal information. And the second pillar of data privacy is ensuring that the information that online casinos collect from their players is used for these purposes and these purposes only. It is, therefore, very important as a player that you make sure you know and understand exactly what the online casino will do, that these processes are legal and lawful and that you give the online casino consent. It is important that a player only consents to the use of their information in so far as it pertains to KYC verification, a more personalised experience and marketing purposes.

3. Data Minimisation

Since there are specific purposes for the data collection, it logically follows that only specific data is necessary. And therefore, the next pillar of data privacy is the principle of data minimisation. This means that an online casino will only collect personal information and data from a player that pertains directly to the purpose. No unnecessary data will be requested.

4. Accuracy

Online gambling organisations must ensure that the data they collect from players is up-to-date and relevant to the intended purposes. There are several measures that online casinos can implement to do this. These include such things as:

  • Data validation methods: Email, mobile phone numbers, and selfie validation are the most popular methods for data validation. And probably the easiest, seeing as we live in an age where our mobile phones are always within reach. It’s a simple matter of clicking a few buttons.
  • Regular data cleansing: Online casinos will have regular audits scheduled to ensure that the data players send them is still up to date. But it also includes such things as removing any duplicates that have been sent. Or even comparing a player’s data to other reliable sources and ensuring the information stated matches.
  • User self-service options: Perhaps the most time-efficient way to ensure the accuracy of information is by giving the players the ability to access the online gambling portal and update their own information. This way, players can review and correct certain data as it changes. For example, a change of address or a new bank account.

5. Security and Confidentiality

Online gambling organisations must implement certain policies and procedures to ensure that the data they collect from their players is secure and safe. By taking measures to restrict unauthorised access to information and ensuring that personal information obtained from users cannot be used, altered or destroyed by unlawful entities, online gambling organisations guarantee the confidentiality of the documents.

Types of Data Privacy

By following the rules and procedures put forth by the GDPR, online casinos can guarantee data privacy. But what kind of privacy? As a player, you are entitled to the following four types of data privacy:

1. Physical Privacy

Online casinos need to secure physical access to players’ data. This means that no authorised person should be able to access the data storage facilities. All files, servers, and devices need to be password protected and only accessible by the necessary individuals.

2. Digital Privacy

We live in a digital age, and very few documents that players share with an online gaming platform will be in the form of physical paperwork. All relevant information will most likely be transmitted electronically through emails, websites or other online platforms. It is the online casino’s responsibility to ensure that these channels are safe and secure and that the personal information of players can be sent and stored without fear of unlawful use.

3. Communication Privacy

Throughout the verification process and whilst the online casino gathers the players’ personal information, there will be communication between the interested parties. This communication can occur in a variety of methods. Phone calls, messages, or even video chats between the players and the online casino staff may occur. The online casino is responsible for ensuring that all communication is confidential and that players’ personal information isn’t disclosed to unlawful parties during the process. Players may now wonder who exactly will have access to this in-game communication. Because of the nature of the information that is collected, there are several parties that may have access:

  • Online casino staff and personnel: Depending on the game and its specific services, it may be necessary for the online casino to give access to the communications between themselves and the players to their staff. This is especially true in the case of any disputes that may arise. Customer service individuals may need to access phone calls or email correspondence records to resolve issues the player may bring to their attention.
  • Other Players: Online casinos often have multiplayer game options, and as such, it would be necessary for other players to access certain communications, such as group chats or voice chats.
  • Game Developers and Publishers: One of the main goals of an online casino is to make the player’s experience as pleasant as it can be. To do this, they often have access to communications to moderate content or ensure that certain service terms are enforced. They may even use the information that they gather to improve the game’s performance and features.
  • Platform Providers: Online gaming services are hosted on an online platform. In some cases, the providers would need access to certain communications to ensure that gambling regulations are complied with and that there are sufficient security measures in place to protect players.
  • Law enforcement: Legal authorities may sometimes require access to in-game communications as part of investigations or legal proceedings. This access, though, has to go through the appropriate legal channels and will, in most cases, be subsequent to court orders.

It is very important that players understand the online casino’s policies with regard to information and communication sharing. Most importantly, players should remember to use discretion when communicating during gameplay and avoid sharing sensitive data.

4. Decisional Privacy

Decisional privacy is closely connected to players’ consent to use their personal information. As a player, you have the right to make decisions about collecting, using, and disclosing your personal information. The player will make these decisions, and there should be no external influence of any kind.

What is the EGBA?

The European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) is an industry association representing online gambling operators within the EU. The association’s members include some of the leading online gambling companies; thus, it plays a big part in the policymaking and development of gambling regulations.

Their main goal is to promote a regulated and competitive online gambling market, thus ensuring high industry standards. They make sure that the association member follows the GDPR procedures, which, in turn, ensures a safe and secure environment for online gamblers.

Now you may be asking how Brexit has affected these policies as the EGBA is a European organisation, and the GDPR is a set of rules and regulations developed for the countries that are a part of the European Union.

To ensure continuity and make the free flow of information between the UK and the EU easier, the UK has incorporated the GDPR into its domestic legislation. This means that the UK’s data protection laws align very closely with the GDPR. In other words, very little has changed. Though there are certain policy changes with regard to players from the UK wanting to register at an EU online casino, the process of joining a UK online gambling platform remains unchanged, and UK players are still afforded the same data protection.

The important thing is that players realise that if they register at a reputable online gambling platform, then the relevant data protection procedures will be in place. They can rest assured that their data is protected. Online gaming platforms have the concept of data privacy at the forefront of their development policies. They realise that in order to grow their membership numbers, they have to guarantee that the personal information of members is safe. They spend a lot of resources on the advancement of technology to ensure this. As long as players clearly understand these policies and procedures, they can gamble without having to worry about the safety of their personal data.

Author Dean McHugh

I am a full-time Sports Betting & Casino Content Writer based in the UK. I have years of knowledge, covering a broad range of different sports. If I don’t know about it, it's not worth knowing! My favourite sports are Football, Tennis, Golf, Snooker, Cricket, Boxing and MMA. As you can tell...I love sports! I have a passion for the Casino and iGaming industry, I have worked in and around it for the best part of 20 years.