Bonne Terre Limited, which trades as Sky Betting and Gaming, has been fined just under £1.2m for sending promotional emails to customers who had self-excluded or opted out of receiving marketing, the Gambling Commission says.
The company distributed a Sky Vegas promotional offer of ‘Bet £5 get 100 spins’ to more than 41,000 customers who had self-excluded and almost 250,000 who had unsubscribed from marketing emails, the regulator states. Self-exclusion is used by people who feel they are struggling to control their gambling to request that the operator refuse their custom, a facility the Gambling Commission requires all operators to offer. Contacting these customers constituted a breach of licensing conditions aimed at ‘ensuring gambling in Britain is socially responsible’, the commission said.
Earlier this month 888 UK Limited was fined almost £9.5m for ‘social responsibility and money laundering failings’ including not effectively identifying players at risk of harm, giving a customer known to be earning £1,400 a month a £1,300 monthly deposit cap, and not carrying out a customer interaction with someone who lost almost £40,000 in six weeks during the pandemic.
In the March issue of DDN, campaigner Kelly Field describes how she spent more than £10,000 on a single credit card in a short period with one betting company. ‘There are triggers for harm data which would have flagged me up and they should have followed their duty of care, but rather than using it to signpost people to help and prevent them getting into trouble they use it to exploit them,’ she said.
Although gambling harm has traditionally been seen as a predominantly male issue, the number of women receiving treatment for problem gambling has doubled over the last five years to just under 2,500 according to GambleAware, while a Gambling Commission blogpost to mark International Women’s Day stated that almost half of women had gambled in the last four weeks when the National Lottery, scratchcards and bingo were included. Around a third of women aged 35-54 now gamble, with new analysis by NatCen and the University of Liverpool finding that ‘women who have online gambling accounts –for online slots, casino, bingo and instant win products – actually tend to play more often, for longer, and spend more than men’.
Describing the Sky Betting case, Gambling Commission chief executive Andrew Rhodes stated that, ‘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. This latest fine would have been a lot higher had Sky Betting and Gaming allowed any of the self-excluded customers to actually gamble, failed to cooperate, and not taken decisive action aimed at preventing a repeat.’
NatCen/University of Liverpool: Exploring online patterns of play at www.begambleaware.org