The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) is investigating the online casino Sky Vegas for allegedly offering free spins to recovering problem gamblers during the sector’s annual Safer Gambling Week. The online casino platform’s actions have prompted concern that such promotions could trigger relapses among British gambling addicts.
The alleged incident is now being investigated by the UKGC. Ironically, the concerns associated with the free spin offers have emerged pretty much at the same time when the parent company of Sky Vegas – the gambling giant Flutter Entertainment – bragged about the improvements it brought to its safer gambling measures. Flutter Entertainment has also reported that its financial results had taken a hit due to its decision to tighten its safer gambling policy.
Sky Betting and Gaming has apologised for the incident, which has involved gamblers, who had voluntarily suspended themselves from accessing online games and slots, receiving promotional emails offering them free spins.
According to reports, one email sent on November 2nd promoted a “mystery bonus” offered on the online gambling platform of Sky Vegas. The advertising message also featured graphics of slot machines, as well as the slogan “Entertainment like no other”. Also, the promotions were sent to gamblers who had specifically chosen not to receive direct marketing messages, as well as to recovering problem gamblers who had signed in so-called self-exclusion schemes to ban themselves from accessing online casino and sports betting platforms.
Participation in Industry-Wide Self-Exclusion Scheme Set as Gambling Operating Licence Condition
The concerns associated with the incident have also emerged at a time when the UK Government is reportedly finalising the proposals for the gambling industry regulation overhaul, which could result in the implementation of more crackdown measures on advertising and marketing.
For the time being, about 218,000 people have signed up in the self-exclusion scheme of Gamstop, which is applicable for the entire gambling sector of the UK. under the conditions of their operating licences, gambling companies need to remove people who have self-excluded themselves from their services not only from their platforms but also from any marketing communication lists.
Sky Betting and Gaming has breached these licence conditions on previous occasions. Three years ago it faced a £1-million fine for some failures, including sending gambling advertising materials to 50,000 customers.
As revealed by some recovering problem gamblers, the messages inviting them to gamble in order to be given some special bonuses, put them at the risk of returning to their previous gambling habits. A spokesperson of the UKGC confirmed that some members of the public had informed the gambling regulatory body that Sky Betting had sent promotional emails to customers who have self-excluded themselves from casino and slot games online.
What is even more disappointing, is the fact that the incident occurs during the Safer Gambling Week in the UK – an annual initiative aimed at raising the industry’s and public’s awareness of the measures taken to protect vulnerable people and problem gamblers across the country. The local gambling sector has been trying hard to prove that the operators have improved their ethics, while the UK Government is preparing to publish the proposed changes for the country’s gambling industry regulation.
Olivia Cole has worked as a journalist for several years now. Over the last couple of years she has been engaged in writing about a number of industries and has developed an interest for the gambling market in the UK.