Great Britain’s Gambling Commission has issued a fine of PS490,000 (EUR563,794/$604,918) to PPB Counterparty Services, trading as Paddy Power, for marketing to customers who had self-excluded.
Paddy Power Betfair informed the Commission that, on 21 November 2021, a push notification inverted was sent from its application to Apple devices connected to accounts of players having self-excluded through Gamstop.
The notification contained information about enhanced odds on bets placed on a match of the English Premier League. PPB stated that the notification was sent by Paddy Power due to a human error.
After an investigation, the Commission ruled that PPB did not comply with paragraphs 2, and 3 of Social Responsibility Code Provision 3.5.3. They require that licensees take all reasonable measures to prevent marketing materials from being sent to customers who have self-excluded themselves.
The section states that licensees are required to remove the names and details of the users within two business days after receiving the notification of self-exclusion.
Ian Brown, CEO of Flutter UK & Ireland said: “Flutter aims to be the leader in safer gambling. We apologize for this error.”
“The push notification was sent by mistake and our team immediately rectified the problem and informed the Gambling Commission. We know that Paddy Power and the regulator did not receive any complaints regarding the message.
He said: “We will continue to work closely in all areas with the Gambling Commission and are committed to operating to the highest levels of responsibility.”
Uncertain is how many customers who self-excluded actually received the message, as they would need to have installed a Paddy Power application and enabled push notification.
Due to the restrictions imposed by the business, no self-excluded customers would have been allowed to place any bets and deposit cash.
PPB acknowledged that its actions constituted a violation of SRCP 3.5.3. A failure to comply with SRCP 3.5.3 is deemed a violation of license under section 82(1) Gambling Act, 2005.
The Commission chose to penalize PPB financially. The PPB filed a complaint against the decision but this was dropped when it agreed to pay an alternative penalty of PS490,000.
PPB has also agreed to pay for an independent third-party to audit its marketing communication processes.
Flutter, the parent company of Paddy Powers, has implemented a number safer gambling measures to its UK and Ireland-based brands. These include mandatory deposit limits for those under 25 and a PS10 maximum stake for all online slot machines.
After concluding this case, the Commission confirmed that neither it nor PPB had received any complaints or contacts from customers.
The Commission noted that PPB had notified the regulator immediately after the incident occurred, taken immediate remedial actions and fully cooperated with the Commission.
Kay Roberts, executive director of operations at the Commission, said: “We take these breaches very seriously, even though there’s no proof that the marketing was done intentionally, or that everyone with an app saw the notification, or that customers who were self-excluded could gamble.”
We would recommend that all operators learn from their mistakes and make sure their systems are robust to prevent promotional materials from being sent to customers who have self-excluded themselves.
This latest ruling follows the Commission’s order this week to pay PS305.150 for a number of AML and social responsibility failures by SkillOnNet, an online casino platform and operator.
SkillOnNet will pay the money in lieu of financial penalties after reaching an agreement with the regulator. The money will go to socially-responsible causes.
SkillOnNet was found to have violated several License Conditions and Codes of Conduct during a Commission led regulatory review for the period January 2021 to December 2022.