The United Kingdom’s Gambling Commission has slapped the sports betting operator Betway with a $464,000 fine. The gambling company was found guilty of promoting its products to underage audiences.
According to the commission, Betway had surreptitiously added its logo to the children’s pages on West Ham United FC’s website. To top it all off, the logo served as a hyperlink that redirects users directly to Betway’s website.
The UKGC found out that the logo remained on these pages for over a year. According to the authority, it was added on April 14, 2020, and remained there until it was eventually taken down on November 6, 2021. As a result, kids that may have used the site to download a printable teddy bear bearing West Ham FC’s logo would have been bombarded with gambling ads.
Commission enquiries revealed that between 14 April 2020 and 6 November 2021 the operator’s gambling logo, which linked to its website, was displayed on a webpage offering the opportunity to print a teddy bear for children to color in.
In addition, the UKGC understood that Betway’s logo was also present on the “Young Hammers at Home” page. However, this hyperlink was quickly taken down and only remained there for about three weeks.
The UKGC Fined the Operator
Since the Gambling Commission prohibits operators from promoting gambling content to children, it took action and issued a $464,000 fine to Betway. The commission, however, didn’t confirm whether it also penalized West Ham United FC for the advertising breaches.
The UKGC remains dead set on protecting the British youth and forcing operators to be socially responsible. Leanne Oxley, director of enforcement at the UKGC, said that protecting children from gambling harm is the regulator’s mission. She admits that the presence of Betway’s logo on the aforementioned web pages might have been an honest mistake. Even so, Oakley noted, the UKGC must set an example and discourage other operators from deliberately targeting children. Oakley asserted that the commission takes the breaches of any rules, especially ones concerning children, very seriously.
We note the remedial actions since taken by the licensee but advise all operators to learn from this case and ensure that they take responsibility and have the correct processes in place so that websites directed at children do not include advertisements for gambling.
Leanne Oxley, director of enforcement, UKGC
A month ago, the UKGC also fined Smarkets for breaching Britain’s AML and social responsibility rules.