Recovering addicts were offered free spins by Sky Vegas, a Sky Betting and Gaming online casino, during the annual Safer Gambling Week, according to a report by The Guardian. The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) is currently investigating the incident.
The incident happened during the same week Sky Vegas’ parent company, Flutter Entertainment, boasted about its safer gambling practices.
During the week, Sky Vegas sent promotional email messages to some recovering addicts, encouraging them to gamble to win bonuses. It is not clear how Sky Vegas had these emails, but some messages were sent out to those who had not opted out from receiving direct marketing and content from casinos.
The emails included content urging consumers to claim free spins and win big prizes.
Take a peek at what your mystery bonus is,” one email offered. “Here at Sky Vegas, we love the unexpected. That’s right. Simply opt in, spend PS5 and claim your 100 free spins. The best part? Whatever you win is yours to keep – that’s the fun in fair!”
The promotion message featured images of slot machines with the slogan “Entertainment like no other”.
This comes as the UK government prepares proposals to reform how the industry is regulated. These could include cracking down on advertising and marketing.
This is not the first time the company has been fined for similar behavior. The company was fined £1 million ($1.36 million) in 2018 for violating the license terms, which included sending promotional material to 50,000 customers.
Sky Betting has apologized for the incident.
GamStop No Defense
In the UK, individuals can also opt to “self-exclude” from online casinos and sports betting sites through GamStop. The app is popular among former gambling addicts. It works by preventing users from accessing gambling websites.
However, many individuals using GamStop received these emails from Sky Vegas.
Adam Peck, a playwright from Bristol, was sent the message, even though he had signed up for Gamstop. He said that he tried to place bets as a result.
How often is this happening? Can they ensure it doesn’t happen again? This is very dangerous, we’re talking about people’s lives,” Peck told The Guardian.
“They shouldn’t be targeting anyone, let alone people who’ve told them they have got a problem with gambling and it could be triggering,” Peck added. “What it’s happened during Safer Gambling Week is perverse.”
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Gamstop has seen an increase of 25% in registered users.
Sky Betting Apologizes
Sky Betting stated that it “sincerely apologizes to all those who incorrectly received the promotional messages and for any distress caused.” It asserted that it is investigating the situation as an “urgent matter.”
We’ve been made aware by members of the public that Sky Bet have sent promotional emails to self-excluded customers yesterday. We do not expect this of our operators and we will be looking into how this has happened,” A spokesperson for the UKGC said in a public statement.
A Gamstop spokesperson said that they were very disappointed to discover that Gamstop users were accidentally sent promotional messages from Sky Vegas. This goes against Gamstop’s principles of self-exclusion as well as customer protection.
“We will be talking with the operator about the matter and we look forward to the result of the urgent investigation that it has announced,” the representative asserted.
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