The world of gambling VIP status has been touched upon in some of my earlier blogs. Having received VIP Status when over £50,000 was lost to gambling and deposits increased to up to £5,000 – this highlights the lengths gambling operators will go to i order to encourage you to lose more. Despite never being asked for source of funds and affordability, I received numerous free bets of up to £500, bonus rebates and invites to sporting events with hospitality at places like Arsenal, Manchester United, The Open Golf, Royal Ascot and F1 at Silverstone during my time as a VIP.
Invites to these events ultimately did not sit well with me. Family and work commitments combined with this being a hugely secret addiction meant I questioned how VIP status helped me given I was such a major loser. The emphasis from the gambling firm when questioned was always on loyalty and a bespoke service, when indeed I did get a reply. You were made to feel special as your VIP Manager looked to become your new best mate. Perhaps I should have attended these events as at least I’d have had an experience or two. That said, I’d attended these sporting events before and even when engulfed by addiction, these invites didn’t sit well with me.
So, what really goes on though at these VIP events? I was keen to find out more and have recently anonymously been engaging with two individuals who were made gambling VIPs. What they revealed in some cases is quite shocking. This blog is part 1, the second part will follow shortly. Both individuals were VIPs at some of the biggest gambling firms in the UK and Ireland, who continue to talk about responsible gambling.
Some of the examples of VIP events and the behaviour of VIP managers, who appeared to be incentivised the more the individuals lost included:
-The relationship manager being informed they would prefer a VIP’s friend to not know about the scale of their betting.
-Being placed in an executive box with 8/9 other VIPs, free food and drinks beforehand, for an hour before and an hour after a Manchester United game. Free bets were also given to encourage gambling.
-Both individuals continually being reminded that if they could think of ‘anything’ to reward their loyalty they just had to ask.
-A DSAR later showed that internally that one of the gambling firm were keeping notes on the individual’s demeanour at these events, almost putting him under surveillance, classifying the individual as a “nice bloke, no issues” whilst simultaneously internally calling him “problematic. ”
-VIP manager was also very keen to “get a feel of what I was like in person”. This was as losses increased into £10,000s. They were more than happy to share their personal mobile number and would regularly WhatsApp, especially if hadn’t gambled for a while, offering a new bonus and free cash
Upon reflection, VIP status has been described by one as a “scary world and one they know that a taste of it will leave you wanting more of a life you can only dream of. The nightmare is that VIP Status in turn encourages your gambling spend to increase.” It’s ultimately like the gambling firms are playing mid games with addicts and they themselves can’t believe they’ve got away with these schemes, which now in effect feel like sophisticated grooming and manipulation for so long.
Part 2 of this blog will follow, revealing more into the lengths that operators will go to in order to get you spending more. Free hotels, trips to Las Vegas and even flights then a helicopter to the Monaco Grand Prix are all offered as inducements.