British regulator could ban gambling firms' VIP programmes, shares fall

Jan 3 (Reuters) - Shares of British gambling companies fell on Friday after an industry regulator proposed curbs on programmes and incentives targeting habitual gamblers.

The British Gambling Commission said in a report that it could ban VIP accounts, which typically offer bigger rewards for frequent gamblers, and limit deposits, while encouraging the industry to adopt a code of conduct.

The regulator said betting companies rely on VIP customers for the bulk of their deposits, although they form a small percentage of their total customer base.

“We have been taking action to address poor practice around the treatment of VIP customers for some time,” a spokesperson for the commission said.

The report comes two months after a cross-party group of lawmakers called for a raft of measures to overhaul online casinos and protect vulnerable people.

The Guardian was the first to report on the potential curbs on Thursday.

Shares in GVC, William Hill and gambling software maker Playtech fell between 2% and 4%.

The companies did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment. (Reporting by Tanishaa Nadkar in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva)