One of UK’s favorite online betting sites receives £1 million fine.
The United Kingdom is known to be the world’s strictest regulator of online gambling. Failure to comply with the region’s stringent guidelines comes with swift and heavy action. One of the area’s most popular online gambling sites, Skybet, is learning that lesson the hard way.
The company felt the heavy hand of the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) last week. The regulator found Skybet had failed to uphold mandated player protection policies. The penalty is no slap on the wrist, costing the parent company, Sky Betting & Gaming, a cool £1,000,000.
No Favoritism for Favorite Online Betting Sites
Following a recent review of the UK’s online gambling regulations and licensed operators, the Commission made it clear that there’s no room for favoritism in this lucrative market. The UKGC is declaring its determination to protect players. And if that means going after the most popular gambling sites in the region, so be it.
Last week, the Commission confirmed that a fine had been imposed on a betting company for failure to protect vulnerable players. The incident revolves around individuals signing up for the self-exclusion service, yet still being able to sign up new player accounts, make deposits, and place bets without hindrance.
The self-exclusion tool is in place to protect vulnerable players who recognize they have a problem. Once they sign up for the program, operators must deny them gambling services. That clearly hasn’t been the case.
Skybet Admits Failure, Accepts Fine
Skybet is just one of a multitude of UK licensees who will be accountable for failing to protect vulnerable players. So far, they are the only company known admit wrongdoing, willingly accepting the penalty for its failure.
UKGC Programme Director Richard Watson notes:
“Skybet reported the issues to us quickly, cooperated with us and has taken this investigation seriously.”
Sky Betting & Gaming CEO Richard Flint is apologizing for the company’s lax behavior, and promises they are already working to correct the issue.
“We could and should have made it harder for self-excluded customers to open duplicate accounts with us and for that we are sorry… Since this incident we have further increased our resources and focus on helping our customers to gamble safely.”
Those measures include a current online and television campaign promoting responsible gambling and relative services available on Skybet. Flint says the ads promote, “amongst other things, limits that customers can set to control their own gambling”.
Flint also notes that the company is now employing 60 staff members whose exclusive responsibilities are “monitoring accounts for unusual behavior”.
Responsibility Failures Reach Gross Levels in UK
Following Skybet’s admission of non-compliance, the UK’s investigation into the matter reveals some frightening statistics. The Commission says 736 members of the self-exclusion programme were able to successfully open duplicate player accounts.
Furthermore, 36,748 self-exclusion participants did not receive a refund of their cash balances upon closure of their accounts. And near 50,000 self-excluded members have received marketing materials inviting them to partake in the UKs favorite online betting sites.
“This was a serious failure affecting thousands of potentially vulnerable customers,” says Watson. “The £1m penalty package should serve as a warning to all gambling businesses.”
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