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The UK Gambling Commission prides itself on keeping its licensees in line and this week proved just that. One hapless operator was fined an eye-watering £300,000 for producing misleading marketing material, a huge no-no in the eyes of the UKGC and in light of the licensing agreement.
BGO Entertainment Ltd has been slapped with a massive fine for a total of 23 misleading advertisements – 9 on the casino website itself and 14 on third-party websites affiliated with the operator.
It turns out that the casino had commissioned an audit by the Committee of Advertising Practice in May last year, but then failed to act on recommendations by the CAP. As last as October 2016, the UKGC found more evidence of bad behaviour on the casino’s affiliate sites.
The UKGC determined that, despite several assurances from the operator that it would change its ways, it had breached social responsibility code provisions laid out by the regulator in 2015.
The UKGC, in 2015, introduced social responsibility provisions as a condition for holding one of their operating licenses. These rules are aimed at making sure that operators do not deceive their customers and behave unethically when it comes to marketing materials. Advertisements must state clearly any “significant limitations and qualifications” when it comes to services on offer.
Such materials, no matter where they appear, must not “amount to or involve misleading actions or misleading omissions.” So any advertisement, whether on the web or on social media, must be an honest representation of what players can expect. The UKGC also considers license holders responsible for the third parties they deal with and the marketing materials released through these affiliates.
At face value, not much. The casino operator will have to pay the fine and the infraction will be noted and taken into consideration if there are any future missteps. Case closed.
A closer analysis of the situation highlights a number of things however, which are of great interest to even casual players.
The provenance of a casino’s operating license is hugely important. The UKGC-issued license is particularly highly regarded and this case shows why. They take player protection very seriously and their license holders are expected to adhere to some very strict regulations. Going against these rules is not taken lightly, as evidenced by the big fines imposed.
The ruling also highlights the importance of the integrity of affiliate and casino news sites. Players should make sure that the source of their casino news is a reliable one. Fan sites (like ours) that have a close relationship with casinos will work hard to ensure that any information and media they publish are in line with licensing requirements.
At the end of the day, you want to play at a casino that takes you and your wellbeing into consideration. While we wouldn’t write BGO off just yet – those licensing regulations can be difficult to fully understand, even for experienced operators – this case serves as a reminder of how important having a license from a responsible regulator really is.