Sign in to follow this  

Problem gamblers' privacy breached when list tossed in footpath bin

8 posts in this topic

Not sure how this one slipped under the radar and hasn't been raised and discussed on here as it is TAB related.

One would reasonably expect TAB staff to use a shredder for such disposal of personal information.

Naturally we wouldn't expect them to do the same with betting tickets however as they may be need to be retrieved.

A TAB we are aware of has a paper recycling bin in it's publicly provided toilet, guess anyone could have a snoop and retrieve information if they wanted to.

Problem gamblers' privacy breached when list tossed in footpath bin



Last updated 16:06, January 8 2016

Private and confidential details, which have been digitally obscured, about  problem gamblers were found in a public ...

Private and confidential details, which have been digitally obscured, about problem gamblers were found in a public rubbish bin outside Aleways Inn pub in Frankton, Hamilton.

The names and photos of 56 problem gamblers on a secret TAB list were stuffed into a public rubbish bin in Hamilton and found by a passer-by.

The 33 pages of private and confidential information list those who asked to be excluded from betting with the New Zealand Racing Board. 

Among the names are well-known Waikato businessmen and -women and a sports personality who registered as having a problem between September 2011 and December 2014.

Some of those on the list spoken to are livid their details were not kept secure.

The list came from the Aleways Inn, the TAB outlet on Commerce Street, Frankton. Duty manager Wynell Harris admitted she decided to clean out the files and threw the old ones into the rubbish bin on the footpath in front of the outlet.

Harris has been working for the Aleways Inn, owned by former All Black Graham "Moose" Whiting and his wife, for almost 10 years.

"I was going through the lists and because ... they were out of date, I just folded them up, put them in the bin.

"The thing is, after I'd done it, the next day I thought, oh my god, I shouldn't have done that, because they are confidential. I've done wrong. 

"I have broken confidentiality which I should not have and I should not have disposed of the forms in that manner and I will endeavour and promise not to do that again and file the forms in the appropriate way. I'm sorry." 

The owners refused to comment.


But the New Zealand Racing Board made clear the information is sensitive.

The pages have the words "private and confidential" in large capital letters across the top.

Letters to the TAB managers that accompany the lists instruct the managers to "destroy [their] old gallery carefully and with customer confidentiality in mind". They are updated as necessary.

"While the contents of this letter must be conveyed to staff ... care must be taken to ensure that neither the letter nor gallery are shown or are visible to the public. The issue of problem gambling is sensitive and the customer's privacy must be maintained."

John Allen, chief executive of the NZ Racing Board, said he will be working hard to understand how the breach occurred and to prevent it from happening again.

He expected most TAB outlets would shred the documents and said the lack of similar issues in the past indicated most TABs dispose of the lists correctly.

"We are very clear in our communication with people they need to manage it appropriately, given the sensitivity of private data ..."

There are 640 TAB outlets with an estimated 250,000 customers. Of those, 505 are currently excluded, 108 of them from sites within the Waikato.

People can exclude themselves from outlets across multiple regions, so there is no way to know if all of the Aleways Inn exclusions are from the Waikato. 

"I mean, obviously it's a small proportion of New Zealanders that have problems with gambling, but when those occur, it is a very significant issue for them.

"We need them to have trust and confidence in us ... to ensure they are not further exposed." 

Auckland University Associate Professor in commercial law Gehan Gunasekara said it was an obvious breach of privacy. 

"It's a serious breach of confidence for people to discard information like that. And it's clearly a breach of the Privacy Act, there's no doubt about that. Information must be kept securely, stored securely and disposed of securely." 


Ex-gamblers angry 

One Hamilton businessman on the list was horrified his name was made public. 

"If I had known my face would have been seen, there's no way I would've [signed up]. It's bulls---, really." 

And it isn't the first time excluding himself has come back to haunt him. An acquaintance once saw his photo on the wall of a pub.

"I'm pretty pissed off, knowing that he knows. How many other people is he going to tell? And he did tell a few people, I know. He's got a big mouth and I knew he'd tell everyone else I had a gambling problem.

"People make assumptions, they judge you. Especially the business I'm involved in, people talk." 

Another man on the list was shocked to discover his details were known. 

He didn't expect anyone to have the information beyond staff at TAB outlets. 

"I was told that it would be kept private. I feel pretty stink and a little bit angry that anyone could have had these lists," he said.

Only his wife had known about his addiction.

"If it got into someone's hands that know you, even if they didn't know me, they could track me down and use it to their advantage in some sort of way."

A Hamilton woman had put herself on the list over three years ago. 

"When I excluded myself, it was an attempt to get my addiction under control following the process that was available.

"I'd prefer Joe Public doesn't know because of my job. It's a bit uncomfortable," she said.

John Allen said the New Zealand Racing Board will be contacting all those affected.

 - Stuff

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

... ,i have heard of people at the casino barring themselves and then weeks later turn up wearing disguises,why would you 'exclude' yourself from the TAB ? Im sure it would just take a few words to the people your dealing with in these outlets who already know your a mad punter anyway,but in saying that they should of talked to you regarding your spending clearly before it became even more serious. To have a sheet with pictures of 'exclusions' akin to wanted posters is madness. The Tab know who the problem gamblers are and do nothing to 'help' them,particularly through accounts

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this