Certain spam from online gambling affiliates will no longer be tolerated by the UK. Today more than 400 letters went out from the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) to companies the watchdog agency believes are improperly spamming customers via SMS text messages.
Affiliates angered enough people with unsolicited gambling advertisements that many complained, forcing the ICO to act on those complaints as well as relying on intelligence from other sources for their investigation. The issue at hand is the improper handling of protected customer data in order to force unwanted promotions.
The action comes alongside a new ‘code of practice’ being implemented by the ICO which goes into detail about how companies must explain exactly how a customer or potential customer’s data will be used. ICO anti-spam investigations manager, David Clancy said that many operators and advertising affiliates were not taking responsibility for their actions and that ignorance of the law or trying to pass the buck somewhere else along the chain is no excuse for the violations.
The agency warned the suspected offenders that it has the ability to levy fines as high as £500k for data law violations and noted that they have come across particular problems from gambling affiliates.
On November 7 the office published a report citing a fine of £70,000 they levied on a company that sent out 2.2 million illegal marketing text messages in an unrelated industry. The agency also issued an enforcement notice ordering the company to stop sending unlawful texts in the future. In that case, Steve Eckersley, the ICO’s Head of Enforcement said, “Relying on another company to do your marketing is not a get-out clause when it comes to the law,” according to the ICO website.
Other regulatory bodies have been seen lately to step up efforts to keep the industry in compliance with existing rules and some are considering additional customer protection measures. The UK Gambling Commission is reviewing fixed odds betting terminals which could see the maximum bet lowered. They are also looking into television advertising by industry players with the possibility of banning such ads or restricting them to certain time periods.
Also recently, a probe was launched into online casino’s terms and conditions by the Competition and Markets Authority after complaints that bonus and free bet rules were confusing and unfair. The UKGC has also told operators that they need to tighten up compliance with anti-money laundering rules and make customers’ needs the driving force behind some business decisions or face license review if they don’t comply.