In a statement, the Gambling Commission said: “The failures relate to Skybet customers who had self-excluded from gambling. Self-exclusion is a tool used by consumers who feel they are having trouble controlling their gambling and request that the operator refuse their service.”
Weakness in Skybet’s self-exclusion facilities meant that 736 self-excluded customers were able to open and use duplicate accounts to gamble and around 50,000 self-excluded customers received marketing material by email, mobile text or a push notification within a mobile app.
The Gambling Commission also ruled that 36,748 self-excluded customers did not have their account balance funds returned to them on account closure.
Richard Watson, Programme Director, said: “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.
“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.
“Skybet reported the issues to us quickly, cooperated with us and has taken this investigation seriously.”
Richard Flint, CEO of Sky Betting & Gaming, said: “We have always taken responsible gambling and player protection very seriously but this incident showed that we needed to do more. When we spotted the issue we pro-actively
notified the Gambling Commission and have worked to improve our processes to avoid this happening again.
“We could and should have made it harder for self-excluded customers to open duplicate accounts with us and for that we are sorry. We fully agree with the Gambling Commission’s findings and will donate the agreed sum to charities for socially responsible purposes.
“We want to reassure people that we have not made any profit out of this episode. In relation to account balances, wherever possible and practical we have returned the money to the people involved.
“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.
“We aim to further improve through collaboration across the industry, with the Gambling Commission, and with relevant experts on responsible gambling.”