The company controlling massive UK online betting site Sky Betting and Gaming have been tagged with a heavy fine for overaggressiveness by the UK's iGaming governing body.
The penalty for sending promotional emails to customers who had self-excluded or opted out of receiving marketing was levied on Bonne Terre Limited, trading as Sky Betting and Gaming, £1.17m (€1.4m/$1.5m).
The GBGC investigation revealed that on 2 November last year, Sky Betting and Gaming distributed a promotion offering 100 free spins for £5 Bets from its Sky Vegas brand to a total of 41,395 players who had self-excluded and another 249,159 customers who had voluntarily unsubscribed from marketing emails.
This practice was found to violate the Social Responsibility Code of Practice (SRCP 3.5.3(2)), requiring licensees to take all “reasonable” steps to prevent marketing material from being sent to those customers who had self-excluded.
Informed Consent Clause
The GBGC also found Sky Betting and Gaming on the wrong side of regulation SRCP 5.1.11, prohibiting direct marketing including emails to consumers without their informed and specific consent, and provides customers with the option of withdrawing consent for direct marketing in a jurisdiction where problem gambling is rampant.
The Commission deemed a failure to comply with an SRCP a breach of a licence condition as set out in section 82(1) of the Gambling Act 2005.
In accordance with licencing, compliance and enforcement policy statements, the Commission did impose a financial penalty of £1.17m under section 121(1) of the Act.
UK CEO Speaks
UK Gambling Commission CEO Andrew Rhodes explained:
“Self-excluded customers are likely to be suffering gambling harm and should absolutely not be sent direct marketing that could tempt them back into gambling.”
Advice Moving Forward
Rhodes advised all operators to learn from Sky Betting’s costly errors, going so far as to tell iGaming Business that the fine actually would have been much higher if Sky Betting had allowed self-excluded customers to gamble, or failed to cooperate or not taken “decisive action aimed at preventing a repeat.”
After last week's GBGC decision to fine 888 £9.4m over social responsibility and money laundering failings in addition to the Sky Betting black eye, operators in the UK should increase accountability for protecting players before getting hit with a massive fine. In the largest jurisdiction in the world jurisdiction laden with problem gamblers, this should not come as a surprise, but clearly, not enough heed is being taken as of yet.