Casino Industry Myths: The Data Protection Act (DPA)


Complaints (PAB) Manager
Staff member
Casino Industry Myths

As one might expect from a largely unregulated industry there are a lot of myths in the public and private spheres. Gambling Is Illegal; Online Gambling Is Tax Free; Any licensing jurisdiction is a good one; etc etc. All bogus yet all widely believed to be true and that is a shame because these myths often lead players to believe they are powerless and/or have far fewer rights than they actually do. And that often boils down to players getting cheated simply because they don't know what rights and freedoms they really do have.

I'm going to kick off this series of articles with one of the most misunderstood pieces of legislation there is right now, the UK's Data Protection Act (aka "the DPA").

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: The Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA) is an Act of Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland which defines UK law on the processing of data on identifiable living people. It is the main piece of legislation that governs the protection of personal data in the UK. ... In practice it provides a way for individuals to control information about themselves. Most of the Act does not apply to domestic use, for example keeping a personal address book. Anyone holding personal data for other purposes is legally obliged to comply with this Act, subject to some exemptions. The Act defines eight data protection principles. It also requires companies and individuals to keep personal information to themselves.
The problem insofar as the online casino industry is concerned is that many casinos, especially large casino groups, interpret the DPA to mean that they cannot discuss a player -- or, more specifically, a complaint raised by a player -- with anyone. In practice this usually means that they refuse to discuss player issues with a third party, Casinomeister for example.

For years we've been fighting this battle: player's want us to help them with a complaint, the casino cites the DPA as the reason they cannot discuss the player's issue, and the bottom line is that the player (often) has no choice but to let either the casino or the casino's designated representative decide what, if anything, will be done about the player's issue.

Aside from being fundamentally unfair and self-serving this common interpretation of the DPA is also 100% wrong. The DPA was never intended as a dodge for casinos (or anyone else) to hide from player complaints and the player's wishes to have someone represent them and their interests. But try telling that to a casino's legal people who claim the DPA makes their "talk to the hand" position on player complaints legitimate: nowhere fast is where you'll get. We know because we've tried many, many times over the past several years.

Well now things are about to change because there is finally an official voice that has made the meaning of the DPA crystal clear insofar as third-party discussions are concerned. They are, "The UK’s independent authority set up [by the UK government] to uphold information rights in the public interest, promoting openness by public bodies and data privacy for individuals." And
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regarding a player's wish that a casino discuss their case with a third party which the player has chosen to represent them (formally classified as a "subject access request"):

The Act does not prevent an individual making a subject access request via a third party. Often, this will be a solicitor acting on behalf of a client, but it could simply be that an individual feels comfortable allowing someone else to act for them. In these cases, you need to be satisfied that the third party making the request is entitled to act on behalf of the individual, but it is the third party’s responsibility to provide evidence of this entitlement. This might be a written authority to make the request or it might be a more general power of attorney.
In other words the DPA does not mean what many casinos think it means: the DPA does not prevent a casino from discussing a player's case with a third party authorized by that player to speak on their behalf. Of course all due diligence is the right and duty of the casino in question but once completed the casino should proceed as per the player's wishes. Many casinos do not but we hope that they'll use the interpretations given by, a goverment sponsored body, to re-evaluate their position.

Players have the right to bring their complaints before a third party for arbitration and the DPA should not be misused by anyone as an excuse for blocking that process.
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Meister Member
In other words the DPA does not mean what many casinos think it means: the DPA does not prevent a casino from discussing a player's case with a third party authorized by that player to speak on their behalf.
Great post Max. The one comment I'd make is that you're being too lenient in the above sentiment. The casinos don't "think" it means they can't discuss complaints. The vast majority of them know that's not true (otherwise they couldn't talk to eCOGRA or their regulator). The casinos want affiliates to believe that they cannot talk to 3rd parties because the casinos don't want to talk to affiliates.

In some ways this is a justified position - let's face it, many affiliates have behaved completely unprofessionally over the years and only served to exacerbate already bad situations rather than help. But more of an issue is that having their judgement questioned is just a hassle and extra work for the operator and they don't want to give affiliates the leverage to tell them they got it wrong.

About 2 years ago I had this very conversation with William Hill who insisted that the DPA prevented them from discussing the complaint. I quoted the exact document you just linked to. Eventually William Hill agreed that the DPA didn't prevent them from discussing the complaint and asked us to get the player to send in a physical letter, signed and dated, stating that they give permission for William Hill to discuss the issue with I went off and did that. When they received the letter William Hill promptly provided me with the communication that they had already provided to the player. This, as I'm sure you'd imagine, told me nothing useful and nothing I wasn't already aware of. At this point I challenged them again and they said they'd shared as much as they were going to and while they acknowledged that it wasn't a DPA issue, their internal policies prevented further discussion.

The short of the above is that the DPA makes their refusal to discuss complaints sound far more legitimate than internal company policy.



Swingin' like Darryl Strawberry
Far too informative. Here's me thinking this thread would be about the merits of using tinfoil while playing DOA or kissing the screen before any given bonus round.

Shame! :cool:


Forum Cheermeister
Staff member
This is a battle we've been dealing with for a long time. There is absolutely no reason whatsoever that a casino - either a casino based in the UK or not - should give us a "speak to the hand" gesture. We are certified internationally as an arbitrator, and we have a long history of fairness and balanced decisions concerning player disputes. When we get these excuses from casino operators, we get mighty suspicious and cynical. :mad:

The bright side of this is that it initiates awesome articles like these. :thumbsup: Thanks Max!! :p


Unofficial T&C's Editor
Staff member
This all has echoes of the Radio 4 article we listened to last week - the casino states incorrect facts hoping that 90% of people take them as gospel and have neither the will nor wherewithal to challenge them.

If they are in any doubt how the DPA works, then I'm sure a kindly Country Court judge will remind them further down the dispute line.:thumbsup:


Meister Member
If they are in any doubt how the DPA works, then I'm sure a kindly Country Court judge will remind them further down the dispute line.:thumbsup:
That's exactly what will happen, but for the 99.99% of players that will never go as far as trying to take an operator to court they're stuffed.