Have you noticed an increased number of online gambling adverts during the World Cup?

Over the past few weeks it’s been amazing to watch TV and to see so many opportunities for people to bet online or by text. Enticing ads seem to imply it’s good to gamble, some ads even going as far as to make you think that it’s cool to be in a gang/group of likeminded gamblers. In addition, there are numerous gambling ads encouraging new people to dip into the exciting world of betting your money.

The reality is that for many, especially younger men who follow sport, is that gambling can easily become more than “a bit of fun”, it can become a serious addiction and in some sad cases leads to suicide. The number of over-16’s who have a problem with gambling is thought to have risen by a third in three years according to a report by the Gambling Commission with about 430,000 sufferers in 2015. In addition, more than two million people in the UK are either problem gamblers or at risk of addiction, according to the industry regulator, which warned that the government and industry were not doing enough to tackle the problem.

A vulnerable person may be unable to protect or may be unable to take care of themselves, or unable to protect themselves against significant harm or serious exploitation and be especially susceptible to detriment, particularly when a firm is not acting with appropriate levels of care. The dilemma for many people who gamble is they would not diagnose themselves as ‘vulnerable’. Vulnerability is not just to do with the situation of the consumer. It can be caused or exacerbated by the actions or processes of firms.

Online gambling is a rapidly growing industry and uses sporting events such as the World Cup to hook people, including teenagers, into a gambling habit. What starts off initially as a harmless diversion can quickly lead in to a world cupped in debt and despair and in some extremely sad cases self-destruction and suicide.

The purpose of the VRS is to help protect consumers in vulnerable circumstances. The VRS is a single reference point to allow individuals to protect themselves against further debt or related financial problems that can be caused by a whole host of reasons including, for example, the need to borrow money to chase money lost when betting and in some cases manic spending sprees. The sole purpose of the VRS is to protect consumers and provide organisations with a tool to complement an organisation’s regulatory and social responsibilities around dealing with vulnerable people at a particular point in their lives. The VRS is independent of any other database provider or credit reference agency.

The VRS uses a very straightforward proprietary set of vulnerability flags that signify the source of the Registry entry – typically the consumer themselves, either directly, with the VRS or through a User of the service, for example a lender.

A VRS User simply searches the VRS data base and if a match is found, the User follows the consumer’s flag request. A vulnerable consumer or an individual acting with the consent of a third party can choose the auto decline flag and self-exclude themselves from further credit/borrowing/mailing lists by choosing auto decline. Users of the VRS register simply follow the vulnerable consumer’s request and auto decline any matched applications. Another VRS proprietary flag type refer means a VRS User must pass the case to its manual underwriting team for referral and deeper decision-making conversations with the vulnerable consumer.

Another VRS flag type Financial Hardship can be registered by an acting third party or a firm dealing with the vulnerable consumer by raising a flag whereby specific, identifiable and acute financial or other hardship and vulnerability has been identified to the extent that it serves the consumer’s best interests to flag this with the VRS. This would allow all Users of the VRS to make better process decisioning at the front end. The VRS believes in being proactive rather than reactive to serve vulnerable consumers better, be it lending, mailshots, debt collection activities, utility service providers, in fact any firm whose ethos is in customer care and treating customers fairly from the very outset.

The purpose of the VRS is to protect consumers in vulnerable circumstances and we ask, why wouldn’t you wish to join our growing membership to protect yourself or your clients from unwanted sales? To find out more about how you can join or subscribe to the VRS, please visit our website at

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