Over 730 self-excluded users were able to open and use duplicate accounts to gamble
Skybet has been fined £1m by the gambling regulator for failing to protect its most vulnerable customers.
The Gambling Commission said on Wednesday that it had issued the penalty in response to the sports betting company allowing customers who had self-excluded to open accounts.
Self-exclusion is a tool offered to those who feel they are having trouble controlling their gambling habits, and request that the operator refuse their service.
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The commission said that its investigation had shown that 736 self-excluded customers were able to open and use duplicate accounts to gamble, and that around 50,000 self-excluded customers received marketing material by email, mobile text or a push notification within a mobile app.
In addition, 36,748 self-excluded customers did not have their account balance funds returned to them on account closure, according to the commission.
“This was a serious failure affecting thousands of potentially vulnerable customers, and the £1m penalty package should serve as a warning to all gambling businesses,” said Richard Watson, programme director at the commission.
“Protecting consumers from gambling-related harm is a priority for us and where we see operators failing in their responsibility to keep their customers safe we will take tough action,” he added.
“Skybet reported the issues to us quickly, cooperated with us and has taken this investigation seriously.”
Skybet is the sports betting division of Sky Betting & Gaming. Customers can bet on sports events online, over telephone, on a series of mobile apps and through interactive TV.
Richard Flint, the chief executive of Sky Betting & Gaming, apologised for his companies failures. “We could and should have made it harder for self-excluded customers to open duplicate accounts with us and for that we are sorry,” he said in a statement.
“We want to reassure people that we have not made any profit out of this episode. […] Since this incident we have further increased our resources and focus on helping our customers to gamble safely.
“We have initiated a major TV and online campaign promoting, amongst other things, limits that customers can set to control their own gambling. And we have a team of 60 people monitoring accounts for unusual behaviour,” he added.
“We aim to further improve through collaboration across the industry, with the Gambling Commission, and with relevant experts on responsible gambling.”