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Does suspension of an online gambling account on the basis of disability count as discrimination?

CW11CW11 Member Posts: 10 Listener
edited September 2020 in Disabled people
I am wondering if there is anyone here with knowledge of disability discrimination and whether suspension on an online gambling account after 3 + years of use on the basis of a known or perceived disability would count as discrimination? 

When I signed up for the service in 2016 I was honest with the company that I was registered disabled and had a mental health diagnosis yet after three plus years of playing bingo with this company they closed my accounts using their brain injury protocol - because I have a mental health diagnosis!  

I have followed the complaints procedure to the letter and I am at the point I feel as if the company is trying to drive me insane with its refusal to consider it has done anything wrong. 

I have been dealing with my condition for more than half of my life - I live independently, drive a car and run my own home yet the company has decided I am too mentally incapacitated to continue using their sites.

Having requested a subject access request and receiving it piecemeal over a period of six months. I have read through the files and noted there is still information missing and that the company management campaigned against me, subjugating, bullying and gas-lighting for over a year trying and failing to build a case after I held them accountable for high value prizes I had won but not been sent. 

The evidence used against me was falsely garnered during an unwarranted interrogation by support staff following a technical glitch. 

Any advice anyone can offer me would be much appreciated. 

Replies

  • Flimboid45Flimboid45 Member Posts: 8 Connected
    Hi @CW11. Sorry that you've been subjected to that behaviour. I've personally had experience of gambling sites, from doing some 'Matched Betting' in the past. Unfortunately gambling sites by nature are very shady in how they go about their business, and will find any excuse not to pay out prizes and close accounts etc. Also there's been quite a serious tightening up of gambling laws recently, so perhaps they feel that anyone with mental health issues can be classed as vulnerable to gambling addiction (which is a common trait regarding gambling addicts).

    I'm not suggesting in any way that you're an addict, but these gambling sites have ensure that they are staying "responsible", and unfortunately have the right to close down or restrict any account at their discretion, regardless of a person's health issues or financial situation.Their terms and conditions generally cover this. Because of the tightening of laws regarding the safety of players, it would be extremely difficult to make a successful accusation of disability discrimination, as they can quite easily state that they have an obligation to look after their customers welfare.

    In the instance of trying to get proof of discrimination and having your account re-opened, I would personally suggest you just swallow your pride, drop the complaint  and find another bingo site to play on. Judging by your post, this situation seems to be giving you quite a bit of stress, and continued arguing for the case of discrimination outside of a court, will just increase that stress and become more problematic.

    However, if you have won prizes that have not been honoured, you do have a valid case of appeal. In all gambling related complaints, the first thing to do is try and resolve the matter with the company. As you've clearly tried to do this, the next step is to lodge an official complain with the ' Independent Betting Adjudication Service (IBAS)'. They are always taken very seriously by gambling sites, so it's worth doing. If you feel you have a case regarding discrimination, it can't hurt to mention this within your complaint to IBAS, but I'd wouldn't suggest you pursue this as the sole point of contention. I hope that helps?!




  • Cher_ScopeCher_Scope Posts: 4,412

    Scope community team

    edited August 2020
    Hi @CW11

    I'm sorry you are experiencing this and I'd be inclined to give the Gambling Commission a ring to check whether this is ethical and lawful.  You can find their contact details on this Gambling Commission Contact Us page.

    Please keep us updated.  
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  • CW11CW11 Member Posts: 10 Listener
    Hi @Cher_Scope - I contacted the gambling commission and they have all the details on file but sadly their hands are tied unless sites have breached their conditions. They advised EASS - they indicated it is discrimination and gave me a number to check for discrimination specialist lawyers however no joy finding one that does no win no fee or that I can afford on my income.
  • mikehughescqmikehughescq Member Posts: 7,085 Disability Gamechanger
    I’m disinclined to believe complaints of this nature simply because to me they lack credibility. Few people use online gambling sites intermittently so the nature of users is that they are likely addicts albeit perhaps at different stages of denial or acceptance. If there was no element of addiction then an unhappy site user would simply move on to a site where they were able to continue or accept a ban and stop.

    Secondly, if you have a specific complaint then make a specific complaint. If you feel they failed to pay out then challenge that. If you feel there is an EA 10 issue then challenge that. I am completely unclear as to the purpose of a subject access request in this context. It smacks of wanting a battle rather then a victory. 

    Discrimination solicitors are everywhere; not hard to find and many are keen to take on a discrimination case that will make their name or enhance their reputation. 
  • CW11CW11 Member Posts: 10 Listener
    Hardly supportive @mikehughescq. It takes courage for someone who has very little contact with anyone to actually ask for help and advice. I am stupid and not very good at explaining if you did not grasp that the operator ignored my reported disability for three and a half years until I stood up for my consumer rights and won. It was after this that I became persona non grata and subject of a seemingly targeted campaign of bullying by staff and "technical errors" until eventually when confused by such an event onsite they had their excuse to close my accounts.

    Regards subject access request. I made the request to prove I had reported what the operator insisted I had not and upon reading it I was vindicated. The operator forced closure using my protected characteristics when the reality was that I had held them accountable under the consumer rights act 2015 and it had cost them money.

    Reading through your response I wonder why you responded at all. You appear to think that I am a complete waste of your time.

    I came here looking for support and guidance not to be treated like a complete idiot. I am now feeling worthless and wondering why even in these unprecedented times I tried to reach out for help at all.


  • mikehughescqmikehughescq Member Posts: 7,085 Disability Gamechanger
    It does indeed take courage to ask for help and I certainly don’t think you’re stupid. However, the whole point of advice is to give you options and focus. If you want “support” i.e. lots of people to pile in and say how terrible this all is then fair enough but advice often looks very different and often includes things you may not wish or be ready to hear. 

    You appear to be saying that your subject access request got you your prizes but you’re now asking a question about discrimination. However, that’s not 100% so apologies if I’ve got that wrong. There are several inconsistencies in your account  which really don’t help e.g. I’m not clear if your account was suspended or has been closed. You use both terms. My larger point was that this forum is not where you need to be if you’re genuine about wishing to pursue such a claim. There are legal deadlines to meet when pursuing such a claim and experts in discrimination  law are everywhere. If you don’t move quickly then frankly any such claims would be dead in the water.
  • Ross_ScopeRoss_Scope Posts: 4,594

    Scope community team

    Hi @CW11 and welcome to the community :) 

    Sorry to hear about what's happened to your account, it's unfortunate that that avenue of entertainment has been taken away from you, could you possibly find another website you can use or a different form of game that could fill the void, gambling or not? Of course I would always encourage you to gamble responsibly which I'm sure you have been doing. 

    This community is always here to support you, please don't hesitate to post if you ever need help and advice on an issue you're facing relating to your disability.


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  • CW11CW11 Member Posts: 10 Listener

    @flimboid45. Thank you for your response - I found it very helpful. The most gambling I have ever tried before online bingo & slots was a little flutter on the national with the coupon from the paper and penny arcade visits at the seaside. I wouldn’t have a clue what matched betting is so I appreciate your response from a player perspective.

    Many people – if not most people could be vulnerable to gambling addiction. I always kept a very tight control over my spending on sites. I did not gamble more than I could afford to lose and never went without essentials or ducked bills in order to gamble (that was my idea of who an addict was).

     I am open to the possibility that I may slot into someone’s idea of an addict somewhere along the scale because I played regularly and enjoyed spending time with my friends on sites.

    I agree gambling sites could be viewed as “shady” – I viewed first hand bullying in the chat rooms and how little interest the sites had in preventing bullying. Repeat big winners’ untouchables who have been set up nicely by the sites and who get protected by the sites should anyone speak out.

    I would be a liar if I said I had not been personally affected by the bad attitude and lack of accountability from the sites in view of the treatment of their players. All players made vulnerable regardless of predisposition. They do not have to have a diagnosis in order for the sites to expose and exploit them. They are chewed up and spat out by the corporate machine using specialist software to maximize the return from each customer. Any customer who dare raise complaint or inquiry regardless of its validity is talked in circles until they feel they are going crazy then evicted under pretext of social responsibility.

    It is never acceptable for sites to exploit their customers or to discriminate against them using their protected characteristics.

    To swallow my pride and walk away would say that it is acceptable for them to discriminate against myself and others and continue their vile practices.

    I am not sure that following my experience with this particular operator that I would ever be comfortable enough to play on any of their sites even if they were to reinstate my accounts.

    The extent to which I had been subjugated by this company, their disparaging comments, their abuse of power have all but destroyed the little faith and trust I had.

    My confidence is shattered to the extent that I do not trust any operator or site now. I would always be on guard. I would struggle to relax and enjoy my time online.  


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