Gambling firms criticised over VIP programmes
Gambling firms have been criticised for a practice that sees them offering VIP schemes to customers who lose significant sums of money, raising concerns over the industry’s commitment to promoting safer gambling.
VIP schemes have been cited in a number of cases in which gambling addicts were offered free gifts as they racked up losses. But analysis of jobs websites by The Guardian suggests firms have no plans to rein in loyalty schemes and are in instead hiring specialist staff to develop the programmes.
For example, Gala Bingo’s online business is advertising for a ‘VIP executive’ to increase revenues from its VIP player base. Another ad for Foxy Bingo says VIP managers should be able to “identify triggers” to boost revenue and spot players who “have the potential” to become a VIP.
Both ads say staff should adhere to the responsible gambling guidelines, while GVC, which owns the two brands, says all VIP members are subject to advanced checks and staff are giving extra training.
However, Carolyn Harris, who chairs the cross-party group of MPs pushing for tighter curbs on gambling, says: “These adverts are yet a further demonstration of the industry paying lip service to safer gambling measures. The Gambling Commission must undertake an urgent review of the operation of VIP accounts and the inducements which gambling companies use to entice customers to gamble.”
EasyJet plots package holiday launch
EasyJet is planning to launch its own package holiday business as it looks to step into a gap in the market created by the demise of Thomas Cook.
A report in The Times says easyJet will reveals plans for its holiday business next week, ahead of the crucial January booking period. It will see the airline rework its existing services into a package holiday subsidiary.
The move is the latest by CEO Johan Lundgren, who took on the top role nearly two years ago, as he looks to turn easyJet into a travel company, rather than simply an airline. Holidays, he believes will become a “super-ancillary” revenue generator at a time when its business is struggling for growth.
EasyJet is expected to report a 3% year-on-year drop in annual pre-tax profits when it reveals its latest results next week.
Apple investigated over ‘sexist’ credit card
Regulators in the US have opened an investigation into Apple after claims its credit card offered different credits limits to men and women.
The card, which is run by Goldman Sachs, has been criticised for using an algorithm that appears to set credit limits that bay be biased against women.
The move comes after tech entrepreneur David Heinemeier Hansson complained his credit limit was 20 times’ his wife’s despite his wife having a better credit score. Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak said he had the same issue despite the fact he and his wife have no separate bank accounts or assets.
New York’s Department of Financial Services has contacted Goldman Sachs over the claims, which would violate New York law whether they are intentional or not.
In response, Goldman Sachs told Bloomberg: “Our credit decisions are based on a customer’s creditworthiness and not on factors like gender, race, age, sexual orientation or any other basis prohibited by law.”
Wet weather hits high street sales
Wet and wintry weather put many shoppers off making trips to the high street and shopping centres in October, according to monthly data from the British Retail Consortium and Springboard.
In the four weeks to 26 October, UK footfall declined by 3.2% year on year, a steeper decline than September and the three- and 12-month averages.
The fall was particularly notable on the high street, where footfall was down 4.9% year on years. In retail parks, footfall declined for the first time in five months by 0.5%, while the number of people visiting shopping centres was down 2.4%.
BRC CEO Helen Dickinson says: “High streets were hit hardest in October, with the wet and wintery weather putting off many consumers from venturing out to the shops. Weak consumer demand and Brexit uncertainty have both impacted sales in recent months, and this could be further affected by the imminent election campaigning.
“Nonetheless, retailers will be hoping for footfall to pick up as they enter the all-important Golden Quarter.”
Airlines under pressure over ‘fuel tankering’
British Airways has said it will review its practice of making aircraft carry tonnes of excess fuel – a move that saves it money by avoiding filling up at destination airports but increases CO2 emissions.
Willie Walsh, CEO of BA’s parents company IAG, admitted using fuel tankering was “maybe the wrong thing to do”. Critics have said the practice calls into questions airlines’ commitment to reducing their impact on the environment.
The details on BA and fuel tankering were uncovered in an investigation by BBC Panorama. IAG has previously tried to improve perceptions of its environmental impact with a commitment to become the first net zero carbon emissions airline by 2050.
However, the BBC has seen documents that show a recent BA flight to Italy carried nearly three tonnes of extra fuel, resulting in an additional 600kg of CO2 being admitted but offering the airline a cost saving of just £40.