A number of customers of gambling operator Paddy Power who had signed up for self-exclusion, received a promotional push notification from the gambling company inviting them to bet on a football match. The UK Gambling Commission said in a statement that PPB Counterparty Services, trading as Paddy Power and Betfair, received a penalty fine of £490,000 (US $605,000) each for breaching social responsibility rules. The fines relate to content sent to customers who had signed up with a scheme known as Gamstop whereby they could voluntarily exclude themselves from betting sites, usually because they have an addiction.
In a press release, CEO of Flutter Ian Brown explained that the push notification in question was sent in error. The mistake was identified by the operations team and immediate steps were taken by the company to rectify the issue. The UK Gambling Commission was notified of the error by the company.
Flutter’s ambition is to lead the industry in safer gambling and we apologies for this mistake. We continue to work closely with the Gambling Commission in all areas and we are committed to operating at the highest possible levels of responsibility.” Ian Brown, CEO – Flutter
The Gambling Commission said the action had breached the regulator’s rules requiring gambling businesses to take all reasonable steps to prevent any marketing material being sent to a self-excluded customer.
No evidence of the marketing was intentional
The UK Gambling Commission said the action breached the regulator’s rules that require gambling operators to take reasonable steps to prevent marketing any material to self-excluded customers. Operators are expected to remove any customers who sign up with Gamstop from their databases within two days of the customer signing up with Gamstop.
UK Gambling Commission Director, Kay Roberts said “we take such breaches seriously”. She added however that there was no evidence that Paddy Power’s marketing error was intentional and operators were advised to learn from Paddy Power’s failure and ensure that systems and procedures were “robust enough to prevent self-excluded customers from being sent promotional material.”
Government White Paper includes tougher affordability checks
Paddy Power and Betfair, owned by Flutter, are the latest operators to pay a penalty this year for failing to act in a socially responsible way. Previous penalties include a record £19.2 million fine to William Hill for “widespread and alarming” failures, including allowing customers to lose tens of thousands of pounds within minutes of opening an account.
The gambling white paper, finally published by the UK Government last month, outlined a series of measures to make online gambling safer. It also included tougher affordability checks and limits on online slot machine stakes. These proposals are still subject to further consultation.