UKGC sanctions LeoVegas over social responsibility and affiliate ad failures

LeoVegas has been ordered to pay a penalty package in excess of £600,000, after being punished by the UK Gambling Commission for failings related to misleading advertising, and the handling of customers at the end of their self-exclusion period.

It follows on from the UKGC sanctioning Sky Bet for similar offences, after they too were deemed to be failing vulnerable customers.

Neil McArthur, the Gambling Commission’s Chief Executive, said: “The outcome of this case should leave no one in any doubt that we will be tough with licence holders who mislead consumers or fail to meet the standards we set in our licence conditions and codes of practice.

“We want operators to learn the lessons from our investigations and use those lessons to raise standards.”

The sanction relates to 41 website advertisements by the firm or its affiliates, which misled consumers by failing to include significant offer limitations or by failing to present those limitations clearly enough.

The firm, who hold a remote operating licence authorising it to operate an online casino, and provide facilities for real event and pool betting and bingo, saw a number of breaches highlighted:

11,205 self-excluded customers did not have their account balance funds returned to them on account closure.

1,894 customers who had reached the end of their self-exclusion period received marketing material without first agreeing to accept it.

413 customers who had reached the end of their self-exclusion period were able to access their accounts and gamble, despite taking no positive steps to return to gambling.

Acknowledging its breaches, LeoVegas detailed a revision of its marketing policies, added recruitment and training drives, limiting affiliate numbers, improving sign-off and affiliate processes and overhauling its affiliate terms and conditions.

With regards to self exclusions, LeoVegas has already returned balances to players where possible, identifying €16,500 (approximately £14,429) in outstanding balances (with the majority being less than £1.00), whilst also detailing that it will divest itself of those funds by making an equivalent donation to charities for socially responsible causes.

Detailing the penalty package handed down, the Gambling Commision revealed: A total payment in lieu of a financial penalty of £600,000, which the Commission would otherwise impose for breaches of a licence condition in accordance with its Statement of principles for determining financial penalties.

Divestment of all funds held in self-excluded accounts, either directly to the player where possible or by way of payment of c.€16,500 (approx.£14,429) to charities for socially responsible causes, as well as a Payment of £13,000 towards the Commission’s investigative costs.

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