In a bit of news that may or may not come as a shock to poker players, Nick Haslem of AustralianGambling.au penned an article last week detailing how common it is for the personal information of thousands of online gamblers to be sold to the highest bidder.
Haslem was actually able to obtain a 50-person sample of account information, formatted nicely on a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet. His source was man by the name of Ryan Clegg, who claims he has been buying and selling this sort of data, but in larger quantities, for a while now. He purchases the information from employees of online poker rooms, casinos, sportsbooks, and bingo sites, with sportsbooks being the biggest culprits.
All of the information Clegg buys is of European players.  Casinos from which he has personal information include Casino Tropez, EuroGrand, CasinoJoy, 888.com, Intercasino, Spin Palace, 32Red, William Hill, Europa Casino, Vegas Red, Platinum Play and Roxy Palace. He offered to sell casino player info to Haslem for $100 per 1,000 records.
Sportsbooks from which Clegg had customer data are Ladbrokes, Betfair, Totesport, William Hill and Coral. He was selling these records for $50 per 1,000. These are discounted because he only has the e-mail addresses.
As for poker rooms, Clegg had inventory from Titan Poker, Poker Ocean, Pacific Poker and Full Tilt Poker. These ran $80 per 1,000 records.
It should be noted that there is no evidence that the poker rooms and other gaming firms themselves are actually aware of the personal information peddling. Right now, it just appears that unscrupulous employees are involved.
Much of the information, in and of itself, isn’t that big of a deal, as it would all generally be easy to find elsewhere. The data includes players’ first and last names, phone numbers, and street addresses. At the same time, however, there are likely many online gamblers who would prefer to keep their hobby quiet and this puts their secret at risk.
Where things get more sticky is when that basic info is pieced together with the following: net win or loss and total deposits. Now someone who buys that information will have some idea of the finances of those customers. While the data is likely being used to simply try to attract those players to other gambling sites, you never know if a less noble character might find the home addresses of high rollers quite useful.
On top of that, even though Clegg did not admit that credit card information was also sold, he did not deny it, either.
Full Tilt Poker is easily the largest of the poker rooms named by Clegg, ranking second in cash game traffic, according to PokerScout.com. Titan Poker’s iPoker network is third. Neither PokerStars (first) nor Party Poker (fourth) were named.
Most, if not all, online poker rooms have a privacy policy posted on their sites. In part, Full Tilt’s reads:
The personal information you provide to us when using our Web Site, such as your name, postal or e-mail address or telephone number will be kept confidential and used to support your customer relationship with FTP, and to notify you of special offers, updated information and new products and services from FTP, offers from third parties that we think may be of interest to you, or used by FTP or third parties for the purpose of conducting market research or surveys on behalf of FTP. Agents or contractors of FTP who are given access to your personal information will be required to keep the information confidential and not use it for any other purpose than to carry out the services they are performing for FTP.
[snip]
To prevent unauthorized access, maintain data accuracy, and ensure the correct use of information, we have put in place appropriate physical, electronic, and managerial procedures to safeguard and secure the information we collect online.
Obviously, if Full Tilt management was aware of the data selling or had a hand in it, it would be in violation of its own privacy policy. That’s not to say that Full Tilt and the other sites should not be held responsible for the actions of their employees, though.
Party Poker, which has not been implicated in any of this, has a similar privacy policy, even if it does not explicitly say that the company won’t sell player information. In the “Information Use” section of the privacy policy, the company basically states that personal information collected will be used in the normal course of business and to inform the customer about special offers. In the “Security” section, Party Poker goes on to say:
We understand the importance of information security and the techniques needed to secure information. We store all of the Personal Information We receive directly from you in a password-protected database residing within Our secure network behind active state-of-the-art firewall software. Our online sites and the Services support SSL Version 3 with 128-bit encryption. We take steps to ensure Our subsidiaries, agents, affiliates and suppliers also employ adequate levels of security.
Clegg told Haslem that he had 40,000 casino records that he could sell him, 37,000 poker records, 25,000 sportsbetting records, and 500 bingo records.

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