West Ham’s main sponsor Betway has been whacked with a fine of over £400,000 for marketing on children’s webpages, adding to the tide of penalties given to gambling firms in recent months.
The Gambling Commission found that between 14 April 2020 and 6 November 2021 the operator’s gambling logo, which linked to its website, was displayed on a webpage offering the opportunity to print a teddy bear for children to colour in.
Enquiries by the watchdog also revealed a logo with a link to the operator featured on the ‘Young Hammers at Home’ webpage between 24 October 2021 and 15 November 2021.
The commission said both advertisements breached its rules stating gambling advertising must be socially responsible. The online gambling giant will pay out £408,915 for its violations.
Director of Enforcement Leanne Oxley said: “Protecting children from gambling harm is at the heart of what we do. 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.”
Meanwhile, a sspokesman for Betway said: “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.”
It said it accepted the fine and would work with the football club to ensure it didn’t happen again.
A West Ham spokesperson told City A.M.: “The Betway logo appeared on a web page on the West Ham United website containing content that was targeted at Under-18’s. Upon identification, it was immediately removed.
The Club’s new website, launched in March 2022, has robust systems in place to ensure a technical issue like this will not occur again. The Club will be making no further comment.”
The news of Betway’s fine comes after what seems like a summer of fines for big betting firms.
The regulator whacked the betting shop owner Entain with record £17m last month over “completely unacceptable” anti-money laundering and social responsibility failures.
It said the Ladbrokes and Coral owner repeatedly failed to protect problematic gamblers from betting huge sums in their shops and online casinos.
The commission also handed Spreadex a £1.36m fine in August for similar social responsibility and anti-money laundering failings.
The betting industry at large up for the landmark review of the Gambling Act 2005.
It’s now in the in-tray of new Culture Secretary Michelle Donelan to pave the future of the industry, as well as her new appointment of Damian Collins as the parliamentary under-secretary for tech and the digital economy.