How The GDPR Is Affecting UK Sports Betting

January 24, 2020

- Grant Whittington

If you’ve spent any time online in the last 20 months, you’ve seen the requests that almost every website makes to use your cookies. This is because of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that came into effect on the 25th of May 2018. But what is it exactly, and how does it affect private individuals? More importantly, how does it affect the sports betting industry?

What is the GDPR?

The GDPR is a European Union (EU) regulation that increases data protection and privacy in the EU and the European Economic Area (EEA), applying to all companies that deal with EU citizens whether or not they are in the Union. The idea was to continue best practices of data security, but to formalise, strengthen and unify them across the EU.

The GDPR is the set of rules that applies to all members, but each state also has the freedom to change certain aspects when the regulation is codified into their national laws. In the United Kingdom, this was done on the 23 of May 2018 when the Data Protection Act (DPA) was passed.

How Does Brexit Affect the GDPR?

Having been made official on the 14th of April 2016, the GDPR predates Brexit by a few months. Britain’s contentious EU departure is now finally scheduled for the 31st of January 2020, thanks to Boris Johnson’s Withdrawal Agreement Bill (WAB) being passed in the House of Lords.

The GDBR as it applies to the United Kingdom will remain largely unchanged, although experts say there could be some changes. Until the end of the Brexit transition period on December 31st, 2020, the existing GDPR and DPA will both remain in place.

Ideally, during the transition period the EU and the UK government will be able to negotiate a data protection arrangement that works for everyone, and will be able to pass any requirements to the legislation as it stands now.

What Does the UKGC Say?

The United Kingdom Gambling Commission (or UKGC) issued an information note in 2018, saying that the GDPR is stricter enforcement of principles that the licensing body already has in place. These include transparency, accuracy, fairness and the respect of individual citizens’ rights.

While acknowledging some operators’ concerns that they would not be able to comply with licence requirements if the followed the GDPR, the UKGC asserts that it is possible to do both. In the cases where there is legitimate conflict or confusion, the Commission is committed to working with the government to ensure that the twin objectives – preserving licence objectives and safeguarding personal data.

What Are the Practical Gambling Implications?

What the GDPR and DPA mean for gamblers, on a day-to-day level, is that sportsbooks and casinos now have to ask for your consent before they can process your data. This is true of all sites, which is why they ask permission to use cookies (data packages that hold information about you) as mentioned earlier.

In the case of bettors, however, the information is not simply your personal details or even how long you spent streaming a television series. Operators also process your gambling habits, financial history, preferred markets and whether you’ve ever set limits on your account. Now that you have to give consent, your information can’t be used for anything nefarious. And you can’t just tick the box that says you agree to the terms and conditions on a website – another checkbox has to be added.

The UKGC also stipulates that data should be retained for 5 years after a relationship with a customer ends, and should then be destroyed. This is the main benefit of the new regulation, with the added bonus that you’ll be able to port your details between betting sites now that you have exclusive ownership of them. Basically, your gambling experiences are now safer and more convenient and since the nonfulfillment penalties are so high, you can be sure bookmakers will comply.

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