The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) is reviewing online gambling operator Sun Bets license after last year’s infamous ‘PieGate’ novelty bet incident.
On Friday, the UKGC imposed an £84k penalty on Tabcorp UK Limited, a subsidiary of Australian betting operator Tabcorp Holdings, for failing to properly manage risks associated with certain novelty bets and for allowing over 100 self-excluded gamblers to continue to gamble with the Sun Bets site.
The sketchy novelty bets included whether Sutton United FC goalkeeper Wayne Shaw (pictured) would eat a pie on the sidelines during a February 2017 match against Arsenal. The 322-pound Shaw, who did consume a pie, later admitted to tipping some friends about his plans in advance of the match.
In its public statement on the penalty, Tabcorp UK copped to offering a novelty market “which carried a risk of inciting an individual to breach a sports governing body’s rules.” The company further admitted to failing to carry out a specific risk assessment on the impact of the pie-eating market on the individual who had a pivotal role in determining the outcome of that market.
Tabcorp UK was also sanctioned for offering a novelty bet on whether a streaker would doff his or her clothes and invade the pitch at the same game. The company acknowledged that it was wrong to offer a novelty market on an event “which would involve the commission of a criminal offense.”
In addition, Tabcorp UK admitted that 118 self-excluded customers had managed to open 141 duplicate accounts on Sun Bets between August 2016 and May 2017 by changing only their user names, email addresses and bank card info. Tabcorp UK “proactively” refunded deposits totaling over £24k.
Twelve of these self-excluded customers complained to the company about their ease of accessing the site, and Tabcorp UK admitted that it should have addressed the weaknesses in its self-exclusion procedures sooner than it did, and should have informed the UKGC about the lapses sooner than it did.
Finally, Tabcorp UK copped to its staff having taken some manual race wagers on the 2017 Cheltenham Festival at a marketing event in a London hotel following technical problems with the Sun Bets site. Tabcorp UK lacks a land-based gaming license and the company ultimately blocked these wagers from going through and notified the UKGC about the cockup.
As part of its UKGC settlement, Tabcorp UK was forced to pay £50k to socially responsible charities, while also paying £10k to cover the UKGC’s investigation costs, plus the £24k in refunds to the self-excluded gamblers.
The UKGC also imposed new conditions on Sun Bets’ license to require stricter risk assessments on novelty betting markets, including an audit trail that identifies who approved specific markets.
Tabcorp launched Sun Bets in 2016 but the site has failed to make much headway in the highly competitive UK online gambling market. Tabcorp placed the operation under review last October and warned investors in February that, without significant improvement, it will likely pull the plug on Sun Bets when its contract with joint venture partner News UK expires at the end of 2019.