The gambling regulator has fined Paddy Power and Betfair £490,000 for sending promotional push notifications to customers who had signed up to exclude themselves.
Paddy Power sent the offer of enhanced odds for a Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Leeds United in November 2021 to devices that were either linked to accounts registered with the online self-exclusion service Gamstop or which had self-excluded with the operator.
The Gambling Commission said the action had breached the regulator’s rules requiring gambling businesses to take all reasonable steps to prevent any marketing material being sent to a self-excluded customer.
Gambling operators are supposed to remove anyone who signs up to Gamstop from their marketing databases within two days, under the conditions of British gambling licences.
Gambling Commission executive director of operations Kay Roberts said: “Although there is no evidence the marketing was intentional, nor that all the people with apps saw the notification or that self-excluded customers were allowed to gamble, we take such breaches seriously.
“We would advise all operators to learn from the operator’s failures and ensure their systems are robust enough to always prevent self-excluded customers from being sent promotional material.”
Ian Brown, chief executive of Flutter in the UK and Ireland, said: “Flutter’s ambition is to lead the industry in safer gambling and we apologise for this mistake.
“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.
“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 and Betfair, owned by Flutter, is the latest in a string of operators to pay a penalty this year for failing to act in a socially responsible way.
Previous penalties include a record £19.2 million fine for William Hill for “widespread and alarming” failures, including allowing customers to lose tens of thousands of pounds within minutes of opening an account.
The Government’s long-awaited gambling White Paper, finally published last month, outlined a series of measures to make online gambling safer, but including tougher affordability checks and limits on online slot machine stakes, but said most of the proposals would be subject to further consultation.