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Paddy Power fined for marketing to self-excluded players

| By Robert Fletcher
Great Britain’s Gambling Commission has issued a fine of £490,000 (€563,794/$604,918) to PPB Counterparty Services, trading as Paddy Power, for marketing to customers who had self-excluded.
Flutter charities UK Ireland

Paddy Power Betfair notified the Commission that on 21 November 2021 a push notification was invertedly sent from its app to Apple devices linked to accounts of players who had self-excluded via Gamstop.

The notification included details of enhanced odds for bets on an English Premier League football match. PPB said the notification was sent out by Paddy Power as a result of human error.

Following an investigation, the Commission ruled PPB failed to comply with paragraphs 2 and 3 of Social Responsibility Code Provision (SRCP) 3.5.3. These require licensees to take all reasonable steps to prevent marketing material being sent to self-excluded customers.

This section also states licensees must remove the name and details of these users from any marketing databases within two days of receiving the self-exclusion notification.

“Flutter’s ambition is to lead the industry in safer gambling and we apologise for this mistake,” said CEO of Flutter UK & Ireland Ian Brown.

“The push notification in question was sent in error and, once discovered by our team, we took immediate steps to rectify the issue and proactively notified the Gambling Commission. We know that neither Paddy Power nor the regulator received any complaints about the message.

“We continue to work closely with the Gambling Commission in all areas and we are committed to operating at the highest possible levels of responsibility,” he said.

It is unclear how many self-excluded customers actually saw the message since they would have needed to have had a Paddy Power app installed with push notifications enabled.

No self-excluded customer would have been able to play any bets or deposit cash due to restrictions the business has imposed.

Accepted breach

PPB accepted that its actions amounted to a breach of SRCP 3.5.3. Failure to comply with an SRCP is deemed a breach of licence under section 82(1) of the Gambling Act 2005.

As such, the Commission opted to issue PPB with a financial penalty. While PPB initially filed an appeal against this decision, this was dropped after it agreed to pay a substitute penalty of £490,000.

PPB also agreed to instruct an independent third party to carry out an audit of its marketing communication processes and procedures, at its own expense. 

Paddy Powers parent company Flutter has introduced a number of safer gambling measures for its UK and Ireland brands, including mandatory deposit limits for under-25s and a £10 stake limit for all online slots.

Upon concluding the case, the Commission acknowledged neither it nor PPB received any contacts or complaints from customers.

The Commission also noted how PPB notified the regulator of the incident promptly after it occurred, took immediate remedial action and co-operated fully with the Commission.

“Although there is no evidence the marketing was intentional, nor that all the people with apps saw the notification or that self-excluded customers were allowed to gamble, we take such breaches seriously,” the Commission’s executive director of operations, Kay Roberts, said.

“We would advise all operators to learn from the operator’s failures and ensure their systems are robust enough to always prevent self-excluded customers from being sent promotional material.”

Other rulings

The latest ruling comes after the Commission this week also ordered online casino operator and platform SkillOnNet to pay £305,150 over a series of anti-money laundering (AML) and social responsibility failings.

SkillOnNet, which runs 50 websites in Britain, will make the payment in lieu of a financial penalty after reaching a settlement agreement with the regulator. The funds will be directed to socially responsible causes.

Commission-led regulatory review of SkillOnNet for the period between January 2021 and December 2022 found several instances of the operator failing to comply with the stipulations of the Licence Conditions and Codes of Practice (LCCP).

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