During Safer Gambling Week

UKGC fines Flutter's Sky Vegas $2.2M for violating self-exclusion marketing rules

Andrew Rhodes, UK Gambling Commission Chief Executive.
Reading time 1:28 min

The United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC) announced Wednesday it has fined online gambling business Bonne Terre Limited, trading as Sky Betting and Gaming, with £1.17 million ($2.23 million) for sending promotional emails to customers who had self-excluded or opted out of receiving marketing. 

On 2 November 2021, during the industry’s annual Safer Gambling Week, the operator distributed a Sky Vegas promotional offer of “Bet £5 get 100 free spins” to 41,395 self-excluded customers and 249,159 customers who had unsubscribed from the operator’s marketing emails. Sky Vegas is owned by the global gambling firm Flutter Entertainment.

These actions were considered a breach in license conditions aimed at ensuring responsible gambling in Britain. Social responsibility code of practice 5.1.11 establishes that, unless expressly permitted by law consumers must not be contacted with direct electronic marketing without their informed and specific consent. Whenever a consumer is contacted, they must be provided with an opportunity to withdraw consent, in which case the licensee must ensure they are not contacted with electronic marketing thereafter. 

In an official press release, Andrew Rhodes, Gambling Commission Chief Executive, spoke about this sanction and 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.”

“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", Rhodes concluded. 

This follows enforcement action in recent weeks against operators 888 Holdings and BetVictor which saw financial penalties totalling £11.4 million ($14.9 million). The operator, which runs a series of sites –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. The money will go to the National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms.