In the United Kingdom and the Gambling Commission regulator has reportedly hit SkyVegas.com with a £1.2 million ($1.5 million) penalty after determining that the online casino had wrongly sent marketing materials to recovering gambling addicts.
According to a report from The Guardian newspaper, the watchdog launched an investigation into the domain operated by the Sky Betting and Gaming subordinate of Flutter Entertainment in November amid speculation that it had potentially distributed promotional e-mails to people who had earlier voluntarily barred themselves from enjoying video slots or games such as roulette online. The source detailed that the suspected gaffe was all the more embarrassing as it emerged during the local iGaming industry’s Safer Gambling Week campaign and only days after its parent had boasted of its own improved safer gambling protocols.
The Gambling Commission reportedly explained that SkyVegas.com was subsequently proven to have dispersed a ‘Bet £5 get 100 free spins’ promotional offer electronically to 41,395 customers that had voluntarily opted to use its self-exclusion system. The regulator purportedly revealed that a further 249,159 punters who had opted out of the domain’s marketing schemes were similarly sent this marketing e-mail, which featured colorful representations of slot machines alongside the ‘entertainment like no other’ slogan.
The Guardian reported that this incident, which critics warned could lead many former addicts to relapse, comes at a sensitive time for the British gambling industry as it awaits the government’s imminent publication of a raft of ‘white paper’ gambling reform proposals. The source moreover noted that the Gambling Commission has recently upped its penalties for social responsibility failures including issuing the 888 UK Limited subsidiary of prominent online casino and sportsbetting operator 888 Holdings Limited with a £9.4 million ($12.5 million) fine only last week and ordering the domain at BetVictor.com to hand over £2 million ($2.6 million) in February for money-laundering and social responsibility shortcomings.
Andrew Rhodes serves as the Chief Executive for the Gambling Commission and he reportedly told the newspaper that customers who have taken advantage of sites’ self-exclusion schemes ‘are likely to be suffering gambling harm’ and must not be directly sent marketing materials ‘that could tempt them back into gambling.’ The regulator is additionally said to have warned other United Kingdom-licensed operators to learn from the ‘costly errors’ of their counterparts and work towards ensuring that ‘their systems are robust enough’ to eliminate ‘the self-excluded and those who have clearly rejected marketing’ from such campaigns.
Reportedly read a statement from Rhodes…
“This latest fine would have been a lot higher had Sky Betting and Gaming allowed any of the self-excluded customers to actually gamble, failed to cooperate and not taken decisive action aimed at preventing a repeat.”
For his part and the United Kingdom and Ireland Chief Executive Officer for Flutter Entertainment, Conor Grant (pictured), reportedly used an official filing to pronounce that his firm took its customer protection responsibilities ‘extremely seriously’ but had not done enough on this occasion. He furthermore purportedly apologized ‘to those customers who we let down’ in advance of proclaiming that his company will ‘accept the Gambling Commission’s findings.’
A statement from Grant reportedly read…
“As soon as the error was identified, we ceased communications until the fault could be rectified, notified regulators and apologized to the affected customers. We also conducted a thorough investigation into what went wrong, the results of which were provided to regulators, and have put in place measures to ensure that this cannot happen again.”