The UK’s soon to be replaced National Lottery operator Camelot has been fined £3.15m after it sent marketing messages to thousands of at-risk players, among other problems linked to its mobile app.
Between February 2018 and January 2021, Camelot’s National Lottery app sent out a series of push notifications to players who had been placed on a “suppression list” because they were at risk of gambling harm.
The list featured individuals who had self-excluded via the GAMSTOP system and those that Camelot had themselves identified as at-risk.
In total, 65,400 players were sent marketing messages to their phones, even though they were already on the suppression list, said the regulator.
The problem was caused by a glitch in the National Lottery app, said Camelot, and the commission noted that none of those affected were allowed to gamble.
Other failures punished by the regulator included a number of cases between 2016 and 2020 where players were told their winning tickets were losers when scanning in a QR code via the app.
Camelot could not provide exact numbers, but told the commission as many as 20,000 scans could have been faulty, potentially leaving lottery winners as much as £68,000 out of pocket.
A third failing saw 22,210 players who purchased a single-draw ticket via the app being charged twice, the commission said.
Players were either refunded for the faulty ticket purchase or paid out if the duplicate ticket turned out to be a winner.
Camelot will pay the £3.15m fine to good causes, the regulator said.
Andrew Rhodes, Gambling Commission chief executive, said: “We are reassured that Camelot has taken steps to make sure that their National Lottery app is fit for purpose.
“However we must caution Camelot that any failings on their duties will be met with consequences.
“Today’s announcement reinforces that any operator failing to comply with their licence requirements will be investigated by the Commission and we will not hesitate to issue fines if requirements are breached."
Canadian-owned Camelot has run the UK’s National Lottery since its inception in 1994, but its stewardship is set to end in 2024 after it lost the recently concluded contest for the next concession.
Instead the Gambling Commission selected Czech Republic-based Allywn Entertainment to take over the highly lucrative licence. Camelot was named as the reserve candidate.