The ICO told iGB that it was assessing the complaint, but was unable to comment further at these “initial stages”. It did not comment on whether this assessment was a matter of procedure after receiving the complaint, or if it constituted further escalation beyond an initial check.
The complaint came in the form of a report Clean Up Gambling – a gambling harm charity led by Matt Zarb-Cousin – commissioned earlier this year into Sky Bet, which examined data practices in particular. According to Clean Up Gambling, the report showed that a number of data subjects were not aware of how their data was bring processed by Sky Bet.
Due to this, Clean Up Gambling asked for a “full investigation” into how Sky Bet and its third party companies process data.
The complaint alleges that Sky Bet uses “invasive processing operations” to retrieve data, both from anonymous visitors to their site and from those that sign up, and said the processes are underpinned by “widespread illegality”.
These processes involve recording and storing data about what visitors do on their platforms, transmitting this to third-party companies and using users’ email addresses to find out further browsing and activity information.
Clean Up Gambling says these processes are then used to create profiles on individuals, which includes information on how they like to be interacted with and how they could be best drawn back to playing on a Sky Bet platform.
The complaint highlights a number of specific allegations. Clean Up Gambling said that the supposed consent Sky Bet received for the profiling and analysis is void, as Sky Bet does not provide enough information for a user to give informed consent.
Additionally, the gambling harm group claimed that Sky Bet stored users’ data indefinitely – with Clean Up Gambling reporting that data on every customer interaction with Sky Bet’s platform had been stored for more than 10 years.
The complaint also alleges that information about cookies on Sky Bet’s website is insufficient and infringes on regulation 6 of the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003, as the user is just presented with an “accept” box.
In addressing the overall structure of Sky Bet, Clean Up Gambling concluded that there were various companies involved in data processing, and that it is not clear which entity is the main processor as not all of them are registered with the ICO.
A spokesperson for Flutter – Sky Bet’s parent company – said that a number of claims in Clean Up Gambling’s report were untrue.
“Protecting our customers and their personal data is of paramount importance to Sky Betting & Gaming and other brands in the Flutter Entertainment group,” said the spokesperson. “Many of the claims in the report are inaccurate and are based on information provided to customers upon request by both Sky Betting & Gaming and third parties we work with.”
“As such, that information includes data that we were not – and would never be – privy to, including personal and financial details.”
“All Flutter Entertainment companies manage customer data in a controlled way to ensure that we deliver our products in a safe and reliable fashion, to do all we can to proactively protect our customers from harm, and to ensure that our business meets its legal and regulatory obligations.”
Earlier this year, the GB Gambling Commission fined Sky Bet £1.17m after the operator sent promotional emails to users that had self-excluded.