UKGC imposes £400k financial penalty on Betway for advertising breaches

The Gambling Commission has today (21 September 2022) announced that remote gambling operator Betway Limited will pay a £408,915 penalty for marketing on the children’s pages of West Ham United Football Club’s website.

This will no doubt lead to other UK licensed gambling operators who sponsor football clubs checking not only the practical steps that are taken to ensure that no similar breach of paragraphs 1 and 2 of LCCP Social Responsibility Code 5.1.6 occurs, but also the terms of their commercial agreements with the football clubs, bearing in mind also the requirements of Social Responsibility Code provision 1.1.2.

The Commission’s announcement reads as follows:

Betway faces £400,000 fine for marketing on children’s webpages

Online gambling business Betway Limited will pay a £408,915 penalty for marketing on the children’s pages of West Ham United Football Club’s website.

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 colour in.

Enquiries also revealed a logo with a link to the operator’s webpage featured on the ‘Young Hammers at Home’ webpage between 24 October 2021 and 15 November 2021.

Both advertisements breached Commission rules stating gambling advertising must be socially responsible.

Leanne Oxley, Gambling Commission Director of Enforcement, said:

“Protecting children from gambling harm is at the heart of what we do. Although there is no suggestion that the operator was deliberately targeting children, or that children had been allowed to gamble, we take the breach of any rules aimed at protecting children extremely seriously. We note the remedial actions since taken by 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.”

Details of the full penalty are set out below:

Details of action

Following an investigation outside of a licence review, the Commission found that Betway Limited (“the Licensee”) failed to comply with paragraphs 1 and 2 of SRCP 5.1.6 – Compliance with advertising codes, which requires the following:

  1. All marketing of gambling products and services must be undertaken in a socially responsible manner.
  2. In particular, Licensees must comply with the advertising codes of practice issued by the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) and the Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice (BCAP) as applicable. For media not explicitly covered, licensees should have regard to the principles included in these codes of practice as if they were explicitly covered.

The failure to comply with a SRCP is a breach of a licence condition of by virtue of section 82(1) of the Act.

In line with the Commission’s Licensing, compliance and enforcement policy statement, the Indicative sanctions guidance and the Statement of principles for determining financial penalties, the Commission has decided to impose a financial penalty of £408,915 under section 121(1) of the Act.

Commission Officials note the remedial action that was taken by the Licensee and acknowledge that the Licensee has co-operated with the Commission throughout the investigation.