Self-exclusion is an extremely important tool for users, as it allows them to take real breaks from gambling. This may be because they feel that they have an issue or that they just want to save money for a while. This system is protected by the Gambling Commission and they’ve found Sky Betting haven’t been keeping up with these responsibilities.
As a result of player complaints, the UKGC have been looking into whether or not Sky Betting have been keeping up to date with their obligations. They investigated their self-exclusion system and found that there were indeed areas where they had allowed excluded customers to gamble against their wishes.
A total of 736 customers were able to open up and use a duplicate account in order to gamble although they had previously self-excluded. Ideally, they would be able to match up the details of self-excluded customers with new accounts and identify those that were using the same details. This is in place across other sites, so it is an achievable goal for Sky Betting to reach.
They also found failings in terms of the marketing that was delivered to those that had self-excluded. Approximately 50,000 of their customers that had chosen to self-exclude were sent promotional materials. These came in the form of emails, texts and notifications from their apps.
This very much goes against the ethics of the self-exclusion, as players that need a break from gambling shouldn’t be marketed to. This could potentially cause a lapse in their judgement and push them to gamble once more. We can see why the UKGC have had such issues with this lapse.
The final nail in the coffin for Sky Bingo was that they had also failed to return the funds of self-excluded players, which had affected 36,748 people. This is a rookie mistake to make and a giant such as this betting house really shouldn’t be making it. The UKGC advises that these funds should automatically be returned on exclusion or account closure.
The fine levied on Sky Betting is a whopping £1million, which will be sure to impact their financials for the rest of the year. They will also be expected to close any gaps in their system to rectify these flaws, or they risk further fines in the future.
The light at the end of the tunnel is that Sky Betting have cooperated with the action and investigation so far, which will no doubt be a positive point for the Commission to take note of. They will be expected to do more however to prevent such breaches from occurring in the future.
We may see more of the sites under the Sky Betting umbrella pushing out more responsible gambling messages, in order to become a more socially conscious operator. This would potentially mean that the UKGC look upon them more kindly in the future, if they can prove that they have taken this element of the player experience seriously.
We think that any improvements that can be made in this regard are good ones, as they help to protect players that may be slightly more vulnerable.