There is no doubt that the UKGC (The UK Gambling Commission) have been cracking down harder on brands these days in terms of them violating advertising rules, especially since there has been a lot of media backlash stating that operators haven’t been taking their responsibilities seriously enough and effectively not doing enough to curb irresponsible gambling on their sites. They are ensuring that every operator is compliant when it comes to not only advertising, but how they handle other aspects of online gambling such as monitoring gambling habits particularly at the end of a players’ self-exclusion period. They are becoming much stricter in making sure the correct processes are in place and implemented. As of late we have seen a flurry of operators being hit with fines.
The latest brand to fall prey to the UK Gambling Commission is none other than LeoVegas. They were reviewing their operater license – and in turn chose to fine them £600,000 due to failed compliance. They were also ordered to pay for the actual costs themselves for the review on top of this.
What the UKGC had to say
Neil McArthur who is the CEO of the UKGC commented on the LeoVegas penalty imposed and stated that this should leave other operators in no doubt that they will be keeping a close eye on practices, their licensing conditions and overall existing regulations. He further commented that any brand that were implementing any misleading adverts as part of their marketing campaign to wrongly attract customers in any way would also be under fire. They will leave no stone unturned in uncovering this.
The fine specific to LeoVegas was due to what the UKGC felt was misleading advertising and failure to properly handle players who had previously self-excluded themselves from the site. They stated that there were over 41 ads that had misleading content in there, and that their marketing materials were sent to around 1,900 people who had previously self-excluded themselves. It was also found that they didn’t return funds to over 11,200 players who either closed their accounts or excluded themselves. The funds were owed to the customers and should have been refunded.
On top of this, it was deemed that there weren’t the appropriate restrictions in place for players who had chosen to self-exclude themselves from the site for a period of time. 413 players who had excluded themselves were able to access the site and services they excluded themselves from without speaking to them or implementing the cool off period in place which is 24 hours before allowing them to place any further bets. This raised concerns with the UKGC.
Other Operators that Have Been Fined
LeoVegas aren’t the only brand who have been in trouble for these kinds of violations. There was a UKGC fine of £350,000 dished out to GVC Holdings in February, and just after that William Hill were giving a massive fine of £6.2 million when it was found that there were failures in their system when it came to protecting players and prevention of money laundering. For similar reasons – Gala Bingo also received a hefty fine of £2.3 million.
In light of this it is clear that the message from the UK Gambling Commission is that there is much more responsibility put on the operator than ever before to ensure that they have the player in mind when creating marketing materials, and monitoring player activity. If this isn’t done, then a fine is most likely to be sent their way.