CasinosJungle > News > UK Gambling Commission Dishes Out Landmark Fine

UK Gambling Commission Dishes Out Landmark Fine

Penny May 25, 2023

The UK has been at the forefront of the iGaming market for decades. It was, for a long time, one of the most liberal markets in the industry. However, in recent years, to protect those at risk of problem gambling, the country has moved to place some more restrictions and regulations. A big part of the UK government and legislators’ focus has been on advertising. And now a leading global operator has fallen foul of the Gambling Commission’s regulations and has been handed a significant sanction of 500k. With this action, it looks likely that the jurisdiction is serious about enforcing strict regulation around the protection of vulnerable people.

Gambling fine

Paddy Power and Betfair are two of the most popular brands in the UK and Ireland markets. Now part of the global gaming group Flutter, the two sportsbook behemoths have had a huge effect on the market for the last three decades. However, recently they have been on the end of a landmark sanction that could have a wide-reaching effect on the industry in the country. The company has been ordered to pay around half a million dollars in fines. This is due to failings in their player protection and marketing guidelines. Given that the brands are synonymous with sports betting and online casino in the British Isles, this is a significant event. It seems that the regulators there are right on top of any indiscretions that might be occurring.


Fines for Mobile Push Marketing

The latest fines that Flutter has had to deal with were levied based on behavior from 2021. It was found that both Paddy Power and Betfair verticals had incorrectly sent push marketing notifications to the devices of vulnerable people who had self-excluded from gambling. This was a direct contravention of the regulations in the UK around the process of exclusion. According to the Gambling Commission itself, any operator with which a player has chosen to be excluded must be certain to remove the individual’s contact details. This is to ensure that those most susceptible to advertising and falling into problem gambling are better shielded from being directly presented with promotional materials. This is key as another part of the process states that self-excluded individuals should be removed from any promotions or competitions that they are part of. 

While those players would not be able to gamble online or using their Betfair or Paddy Power apps, the damage is seen as being greater than the immediate effect of the push notification. As self-exclusion doesn’t cover in-person gaming. As Paddy Power also maintains a physical presence of more than 350 stores in the UK, their indiscretion could be seen as being even more concerning. Beyond that, it’s not the first time that the parent company Flutter has been at the center of a similar scandal. Just last year, another of its verticals was handed an even larger fine for almost the exact same reason. SkyVegas was found to have sent emails out to excluded players and this landed the company with more than $1 million in fines. These slip-ups all occurred in November of 2021.

How Does Flutter Move Forwards From This?

To answer that question in one word, proactively, Ian Brown, Flutter’s Chief Executive Officer for the UK, and Ireland, was keen to stress that the breaches were self-reported and that they remain committed to the safety of users. After the sanctions, on the notifications, he said: “once discovered by our team, we took immediate steps to rectify the issue and proactively notified the Gambling Commission.” He went on to detail the company’s ongoing partnership with the regulator, also expressing remorse for the behaviors in question.

As both incidents that subsequently led to around $2 million in total fines happened in the same month and year, it’s not as if the company could have been expected to learn from one to prevent the other. There has been no news of any further breaches, so it’s likely that the fines and sanctions have acted as wake-up calls for the operator. While the focus of the regulators in the UK and across Europe will be firmly on Flutter, it’s unlikely that it will result in a loss of confidence in the wider public. In support of that assumption, the company’s 2022 revenue figures were more than healthy. The figures of around $8 billion represented 27% YoY growth. This indicates confidence isn’t to be easily knocked by regulation enforcement and 2023 could prove to be another year of growth.

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