After the Florida legislature came together on Monday to discuss the legalization of sports betting in the state, some gambling opponents addressed the privacy concerns that were raised as it was noticed that details of privacy regulation were not included in the draft.
The issue arose after some of Florida’s largest industries strongly opposed a proposition to increase disclosure demands on companies that gather information from app and website users.
This led to data harvesting becoming an integral part of the gambling deal between the state and the Seminole tribe. The new legislation proposing the legalization of sports betting in Florida presupposes that the tribe would have exclusive control over mobile betting in the state, with all sports wagers handled by servers located on the tribal land.
How Sports Betting Websites and Apps Use Bettors’ Information
The sports betting industry in the United States has exhibited a sharp upward trend ever since the federal Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act was revoked in 2018, leading to the legalization of sports betting activities in more than 20 states.
Sportsbooks regularly require that bettors submit personal and contact information, including sensitive data such as Social Security Number, full name, date of birth, email and physical address, and phone number. On top of that, they are usually obligated to create real-money accounts and provide banking information.
The most common issues usually revolve around manipulating the users’ information to learn more about their betting habits and gambling budget. This can be achieved with the help of third-party companies and the location tracking software that activates when the user downloads the betting app.
Here is what Michael Pollock, a gambling consultant at Spectrum Gaming Group, had to say about the advantages the Seminole tribe could enjoy from such data manipulation:
“The key benefit of it is it allows those who have the database to know the players and be able to market to them and encourage them to spend at other cash registers — gaming and non-gaming. The economics of it will drive them to move casino games to mobile platforms because the convenience of playing on a mobile platform is just easier.”
What Are the Main Information Privacy Concerns?
Gambling opponents claim that bettor profiling and information tracking serve to keep users in the industry’s grasp. They predict that the user information Seminole tribe would collect could allow it to propose another bill that could lead to the legalization of other online gambling products and services.
The Stop Predatory Gambling director Les Bernal said:
“The endgame is here is to use any sports gambling to identify your preferences, your propensity to gamble, your wager, the kinds of things you’re interested in, track you all over the Internet, and then turn around and market to you online gambling, which is where the real profits come in.”
Bernal also added that young people who begin betting on sports will be targets of marketing campaigns based on the collected information to keep the users betting as often as possible, until they get interested in other gambling products, such as online table games, slots, and more.
If we turn to other states for some ideas, we can see that they’ve resolved similar issues by including bettor protection acts in their contracts with the local tribes. However, Senator Travis Hudson says that, if any user data issues arise, the problem will be under the jurisdiction of the federal Department of Interior.