Paddy Power ordered to pay £490,000 for sending gambling notification to 'vulnerable' customers
Bookmaker Paddy Power has been fined nearly half a million pounds after sending a promotional push notification to customers who had opted to exclude themselves from gambling.
They were invited to bet on a football match, which according to the Gambling Commission, the industry regulator, breaches social responsibility rules.
PPB Counterparty Services, trading as Paddy Power and Betfair, have been asked to pay £490,000.
The regulator explained on its website that on November 21 2021, the operator's app "distributed an offer of enhanced odds" to "vulnerable consumers" for Premier League match Tottenham Hotspur vs Leeds United.
The notification was sent to devices linked to accounts that were GAMSTOP, a nationwide scheme whereby those concerned about a gambling addiction can block themselves from betting sites, or devices linked to accounts that were self-excluded with the Licensee.
It was not specified how many people were sent the alert.
Commission rules state that gambling businesses are required to remove those who "self-exclude" from their marketing databases within two days.
In March, ITV News heard from those hooked to online gambling, one of whom said she barely left her home for two years due to her addiction.
Paddy Power Betfair is owned by global gambling operator Flutter, whose CEO in the UK and Ireland said: "The push notification in question was sent in error and, once discovered by our team, we took immediate steps to rectify the issue and proactively notified the Gambling Commission."
Ian Brown continued: "We know that neither Paddy Power nor the regulator received any complaints about the message.
"We continue to work closely with the Gambling Commission in all areas and we are committed to operating at the highest possible levels of responsibility.”
Paddy Power initially appealed against a higher penalty before agreeing to pay a £490,000 penalty on the condition it dropped the appeal.
The news comes as gambling companies are made to "step up their checks" on vulnerable customers in a bid to protect people who can't afford even small losses, the government announced.
Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer outlined the details of a long-awaited White Paper, which is the most comprehensive review of the industry in 15 years.
It will ensure gambling laws in the UK are "fit for the smartphone era", according to Downing Street, while some Conservative MPs think the reforms need to be introduced more quickly.
As part of the proposals announced in late April, companies will be forced to increase protections for vulnerable customers, and there will be rules to lower maximum bets.
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