Online gaming operator Betway has been fined £408,915 ($463,178/ €467,776) by the Gambling Commission for marketing on “children’s webpages”.
The regulator determined that the Super Group-owned brand was marketing on the children’s pages of the West Ham United Football Club’s website, breaching Commission rules on socially responsible advertising.
The Commission said that the operator’s logo – which linked to its website – appeared on a page on the West Ham site which offered the option of printing off a picture of a teddy bear for children to colour in. It was visible on this page between 14 April 2020 and 6 November 2021.
Additionally, between 24 October 2021 and 15 November 2021, a similar logo that linked to Betway’s homepage was featured on the “Young Hammers at Home” page of the club’s site.
GC director of enforcement, Leanne Oxley, said the regulator had no reason to believe Betway was targeting children deliberately, but that the rule breach was still serious.
“Protecting children from gambling harm is at the heart of what we do,” she said.
“Although there is no suggestion that the operator was deliberately targeting children, or that children had been allowed to gamble, we take the breach of any rules aimed at protecting children extremely seriously.”
Betway said the logo appeared on these pages because of an error and that it takes the issue of marketing to children very seriously. The operator then removed its logo from the page after the issue had been brought to light on social media.
“As a responsible, licensed operator Betway has zero tolerance with marketing to under 18s,” the operator said. “As one of the first betting operators to remove our branding from under 18s kit and supporter merchandise, we feel very strongly about our responsibility in this area.
“On this occasion, the Betway logo – owing to a technical error – appeared on a restricted section of the West Ham United website. As soon as we were made aware of this error, we took immediate action to get it removed.
“Nonetheless, we accept the fine and will continue to work closely with the club to ensure this does not happen again.”
“We note the remedial actions since taken by the licensee but advise all operators to learn from this case and ensure that they take responsibility and have the correct processes in place so that websites directed at children do not include advertisements for gambling,” Oxley said.
This is the second regulatory action that the Commission has undertaken against Betway. In a March 2020 decision, the regulator discovered “systematic historic failings” relating to the operator’s anti-money laundering and problem gambling practices. In that instance, the business paid a £11.6m settlement, which at the time represented a record amount.