Caesars Entertainment, a massive "casino-entertainment" company, was caught red-handed when a "back-end software issue" revealed a very shady business practice. The "issue" accidentally sent gambling-related promotional emails to "more than 250 compulsive gamblers."
The list, Caesars Entertainment claims, is composed of gamblers who have opted to ban themselves from all gaming establishments. New Jersey's Division of Gaming Enforcement fined Caesars Entertainment $10,000, but that still doesn't unring the scary tracking bell.
The fine is also the first doled out to a gaming organization after New Jersey legalized online gambling in 2013.
A Caesars VP explained what happened in a statement:
We can assure the public that this lapse on our part was not an intentional targeting of these patrons, but simply a back-end software issue that failed to properly scrub our database before certain mailings.
Opting to self-ban from a casino is feasible and can sometimes be an important part of a compulsive gambler's treatment. Online gambling, however, means that all a gambler can do is unsubscribe themselves from an email list.
Chances are good that you found this post through one of my daily email newsletters, and I can tell you that "back-end software issues" don't cause mass emails to appear in your inbox.
What really happened, then? I see two options:
1. Someone clicked the wrong button when deciding who to email. If that's the case, it begs the question: Why include compulsive gamblers in a list of potential newsletter recipients?
2. Caesars Entertainment got caught for participating in a creepy tracking practice that exploits compulsive gamblers.
Either way you spin it, it seems to cast Caesars Entertainment in a pretty poor light.