Published: May 25, 2023

Paddy Power fined after push notifications sent to people self-excluding from gambling

PPB Counterparty Services to pay £490,000 for breaching social responsibility rules

The bookmaker Paddy Power sent a promotional push notification to customers who had signed up to exclude themselves from gambling, inviting them to bet on a football match.

The Gambling Commission, which regulates the industry, said PPB Counterparty Services, trading as Paddy Power and Betfair, would pay £490,000 for breaching social responsibility rules.

 The fine relates to material sent to customers who had signed up to Gamstop, a nationwide scheme that gamblers can use to voluntarily block themselves from betting sites, often in response to concerns they may be addicted.

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.

But on 21 November 2021, due to “human error”, self-excluded Paddy Power customers with an Apple device were sent a notification advertising the opportunity to bet on Tottenham Hotspur v Leeds United. The Gambling Commission did not say how many people received the message.

Paddy Power Betfair, owned by global gambling operator 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 £19.2m fine meted out to William Hill for “widespread and alarming” failures, including allowing customers to lose tens of thousands of pounds within minutes of opening an account.

The litany of failings has emerged despite increased scrutiny on the £10bn-a-year sector, as the government drew up proposals for tighter regulation.

The resulting white paper, published last month, generally envisages a crackdown on online gambling, including tougher affordability checks and limits on online slot machine stakes. But most of the proposals have been put out to a year-long consultation.

Paddy Power initially appealed against a higher penalty related to its transgression, before agreeing to pay a £490,000 penalty on condition that it dropped the appeal.

The company will also hire an independent third party to carry out an audit of its marketing processes.

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.”

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