Sky Bet cops £1M Fine – are these UKGC fines counterproductive and do they discourage companies from self reporting their violations and being ethical?
About a month ago, the sports betting division of Sky Betting & Gaming was fined £1m by the United Kingdom Gambling Commission. According to the commission, Sky Bet was unable to protect their vulnerable clients.
The main focus of their investigation was placed on self-excluded Sky Bet members. It turned out that over 700 self-excluded users had no problems opening another account and start gambling right away. In addition, thousands of self-excluded members also received promotional materials via text messages, emails and mobile app and a significant number of them could not withdraw their account balance funds.
According to UKGC officials, this is the first penalty like this in the United Kingdom and the amount is selected just as a warning. They added that their next penalties in case something like this happens in the future will be much higher. The commission has pledged to take care of customers’ protection. The good news is that Sky Bet has addressed these problems right away and they have taken this penalty seriously guaranteeing that something like this won’t happen in the future.
The company had an official announcement in which they have described these problems as an accident. They have also pointed out that they didn’t have any intention to make a profit from self-excluded customers. Additionally, they will take steps to protect these customers even more in the future. All these things say a lot about the professionalism of this company and the seriousness of UKGC, but there is a backside of the story that has triggered many debates.
Should betting and gaming companies report their mistakes?
One of the most controversial issues about Sky Bet’s fine is that, according to some sources, Sky Bet actually disclosed their own violations and mistakes, but they were still got a massive fine. In the last year, UKGC has penalized many casinos and bookmakers. Some of them like Ladbrokes Coral was fined over rogue bets. 888, the famous gambling firm has to pay almost £8million for inadequate care of vulnerable customers. Unclear communication of services, misleading advertising, lack of money laundering protection – these are some other reasons for fining used by UKGC.
But, just like in the case of Sky Bet, some of these cases were reported by the gambling companies themselves. Still, the UKGC thought that it’s the best idea to fine these companies. Many industry experts believe that these fines are counter-intuitive and discouraging for gambling operators. This is quite logical because why these operates would report their own mistakes and errors knowing they are going to be fined so brutally by the UKGC. Instead of doing that, they will probably focus on attempts to cover up their mistakes and violations.
Of course, it all depends on the case, but generally speaking, the UKGC should respect the decisions of companies who have alerted them on their own. After analyzing these mistakes and confirming that they’ve made honest mistakes, they should be warned or fined lightly.