Marketing under fire as bookies are hit by £12m fines

Sky Vegas 2The UK Gambling Commission has issued a stark warning to betting companies to tighten up their direct marketing operations or face hefty fines after slapping Sky Betting & Gaming, 888, and Bet Victor with penalties totalling nearly £12m for targeting problem gamblers.

This week Sky Betting & Gaming has been hit with a £1.17m fine for sending a single email marketing campaign which promoted its Sky Vegas services to problem gamblers and those who had already opted-out.

A Gambling Commission investigation revealed that on November 2 2021 the company emailed the promotional offer to a total of 249,159 customers who had opted out of marketing emails and 41,395 customers who had excluded themselves from online gambling services.

The watchdog found that the campaign violated licence conditions aimed at making sure that the gambling services offered in the UK are socially responsible.

The regulator said the fine would have been much bigger if Sky Betting & Gaming had allowed any of the self-excluded players to actually gamble, or if it had failed to cooperate or had fallen short of decisive action to prevent another failure.

Even so, this is the second time that Sky Betting & Gaming, operated by Bonne Terre and owned by Flutter, has been fined for failings over how it deals with problem gamblers, who have actually tried to stop betting.

In 2018, the firm was fined £1m for sending tens of thousands of marketing emails and texts to encourage those who had self-excluded to place wagers. As well as Sky Vegas (pictured), the company’s brands include Sky Casino, Sky Bingo, and Sky Poker.

Earlier this month, 888 UK, which operates 78 websites including 888.com, was whacked with a £9.4m fine after a Gambling Commission investigation for targeting problem gamblers as well as money laundering failings.

The firm has also received an official warning and will undergo extensive independent auditing.

Meanwhile, BV Gaming, trading as BetVictor, has been hit with a £2m penalty after a Gambling Commission investigation revealed social responsibility, fairness, and money laundering failures.

The operator – which runs betvictor.com, betvictor.mobi, hbingo.co.uk, heartbingo.co.uk and parimatch.co.uk – will pay the money as part of a settlement with the Commission.

Gambling Commission chief executive Andrew Rhodes said: “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.

“We would advise all operators to learn from Sky Betting and Gaming’s costly errors and ensure their systems are robust enough to always prevent the self-excluded, and those who have clearly rejected marketing, from receiving promotional material.”

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