Yesterday social media erupted into a frenzy after two of the biggest gambling brands within the UK market mistakenly sent previous customers who have self excluded themselves or used gamstop to self exclude themselves promotional material. This is a serious breach of the UKGC's commitment by their licensee holders that trade within the UK, as they state that licensee holders are to only offer socially responsible and safe gambling advertising and services.
This controversy began at the very start of Safer Gambling Week which runs from the 1st to the 7th of November where the industry calls upon influencers, casinos and news outlets to promote and be bastions of safer gambling, in hopes of educating and limiting gambling harm. Both Sky Bet and Sky Vegas not only infringed upon this system but also offered gambling related products and services to their most vulnerable customers, those of which had chosen to self exclude themselves from all gambling related products. This is typically done by problem gamblers or those in recovery from gambling addiction, to not only stop them depositing funds into an account but also to limit how much gambling related media and advertising they consume.
Many people reported the problem to both Sky Vegas and Sky Bet with one of the emails and offers in question being shown here. A further breach of the UK Gambling Commissions rules outline certain advertising commitments by their licensee holders that must be adhered to, from frequency of advertisements to who these adverts are directed towards. Users reported that they had received in some cases four different advertising emails within five minutes from the companies clearly breaching this requirement which is expected to be followed to trade within the UKs heavily governed and controlled gambling industry.
Both companies immediately put out similar statements in regards to these emails however neither have come forward with further details on how this happened and the steps they will now have to take to ensure it doesn't happen again in the future. The Betting And Gaming Council who are the standards body championing safer gambling within the UK are aware of the issue after posting the statements to their own social media accounts. However it will be gambling commission who will decide on a appropriate punishment for the companies whether that be through fines, suspension or loss of their gambling license.
The Gambling Commission itself has faced criticism in the past for how it handles clear breaches of its licensee code and it will be expected to act by not only those customers effected by these marketing emails but by the broader gambling community with this happening during Safer Gambling Week. Previously in 2018 Sky Bet had to pay a £1 million penalty package for failing to follow the UKGC's social responsibility clauses with 736 self excluded customers being able to open accounts on their website, deposit and gamble all whilst being self excluded. 50,000 self excluded customers received marketing material in a similar way to yesterdays breach and 36,738 self excluded customers did not have their account balance funds released to them after closing their accounts. We will let you be the judge on whether the previous £1 million fine was enough of a punishment at that time as its obvious this mistake has now been repeated by the company. We will be sure to keep you updated on this developing story and the actions taken by the Gambling Commission for these breaches of their code.