Report: Ladbrokes Pushing Online Accounts in Face of Shop Closures
As UK bookmaker Ladbrokes readies for the closure of about 1,000 retail betting shops, reports have surfaced on a ranking system the company intends to use to determine whether employees get laid off.
The UK Guardian newspaper said part of that test will be whether employees can sign gamblers to new online accounts. About 5,000 Ladbrokes employees are facing layoffs.
The newspaper cited letters circulated among Ladbrokes employees. The letters say the bookmaker will close 1,000 of its 3,500 shops over the next 18 to 24 months. The company plans to close the shops as the UK drops the maximum bet on fixed odds betting terminals to £2.
Staff redundancies will be decided through a ranking system, with staff grouped by area and competing against each other.
According to the paper, customer service managers will be judged partly on performance in an online test, accounting for 40 percent of their score, while a face-to-face interview will make up 20 percent and past disciplinary record will count for 10 percent. A further 30 percent of their score will be based on the number of customers they can persuade to set up new online accounts, helping the company offset lost FOBT revenue.
UK newspapers and politicians have strongly supported the cuts to FOBT betting and the report brought criticism that employees of bookmaking firms are being forced to compete for their jobs.
In the memo to staff, Ladbrokes said it would not take any decision on which shops to close until it had finished a 45-day period of “collective consultation,” the report said.
A Ladbrokes spokesperson told the paper that shop closures were “an inevitable outcome of the changes to FOBT regulation.”
“We are fully committed to running a fair and transparent consultation process with our shop colleagues,” the spokesman said. “Given the regulatory environment, our aim is to keep the maximum number of shops open, job losses to a minimum, and to continue to build a responsible and vibrant multi-channel environment in our shops where customers can transact with us seamlessly in our shops or online.”
In another UK note, the UK Advertising Standards Authority has banned gambling ads that ran in ITV’s “I’m a Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here” app for not adhering to rules to protect children from being encouraged to bet.
The app for the popular UK TV show was sponsored by Tombola, an online bingo, casino and slots company, which ran ads featuring phrases such as: “A chance to win a share of £250,000 for free” when users sign up to vote on the TV show.
The show had an estimated 12 million viewer audience with more than a million viewers under the age of 18.
“We considered Tombola Arcade should not have used the app to deliver gambling ads to consumers,” the ASA said in a press statement. “We therefore considered the advertiser had not taken sufficient care, through the selection of media, to ensure that the ads were directed at an audience aged 18 and over so as to minimize under-18s’ exposure to them.”
The move comes after the authority released a study showing that children are being exposed to more gambling advertisements than 10 years ago. Despite those figures, the authority feels that children’s exposure to gambling ads has begun to fall compared to adult’s exposure.