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Betway fined for advertising on children’s pages of West Ham website | Regulators

Online gaming company Betway has been fined more than £400,000 after its marketing material was discovered on the children’s section of West Ham United’s website, including a page where young fans were urged to coloring a teddy bear.

The Gambling Commission found that the Betway logo had appeared on parts of the football club’s website aimed at children over a period of more than 18 months.

The betting company’s marketing material began to appear a month after it was fined £11.6million, a record at the time, for accepting stolen money from ‘VIP’ customers “very spendthrift.

Its logo continued to be shown to children even after the government launched a review of gambling laws which considered whether the industry should be allowed to sponsor football clubs.

Gambling reforms were put on hold indefinitely during the Tory leadership race and Liz Truss is now believed to be planning to scrap them altogether as part of her government’s anti-regulation agenda.

The fine imposed on Betway adds to concern among campaigners about the extent to which gambling imagery has saturated football since Tony Blair’s Labor government liberalized gambling laws in 2005.

Betway’s logo, linked from its website, was displayed on a West Ham United webpage offering the option of printing a teddy bear for children to colour.

Investigations also revealed a logo, also linked to Betway’s website, featured on the Young Hammers at Home webpage between October 24 and November 15, 2021.

Betway has been fined £408,915 for breaking commission rules that gambling advertising must be socially responsible.

However, its operating license will not be suspended, despite previous warnings from the commission that repeat offenders could face harsher penalties than a fine.

James Grimes leads the Big Step campaign to launch football gambling advertising, part of the Gambling with Lives charity.

He said: “Promoting gambling on the children’s pages of club websites is extremely callous at best and an attempt to attract the next generation of players at worst.

“We welcome the action of the Gambling Commission, but such a small fine compared to Betway’s giant profits will not have a deterrent effect.

“Until they are at real risk of having their license revoked, gambling companies will only view fines as a cost of business and move on.

“This again shows that the Government must end all gambling sponsorship in football – by continuing to promote gambling, clubs are risking the health and lives of their young fans.”

Leanne Oxley, Director of Enforcement at the Gambling Commission, said: “Protecting children from the harms of gambling is at the heart of what we do.

“While there is no indication that the operator was deliberately targeting children or that children were allowed to play, we take the violation of any rule aimed at protecting children very seriously.

“We note the corrective actions taken since by the licensee, but advise all operators to learn from this matter and ensure that they take responsibility and put in place the appropriate processes so that websites intended for children do not include gambling advertisements.”

A Betway spokesperson said: “As a responsible and licensed operator, Betway has zero tolerance with marketing to under 18s. As one of the first betting operators to remove our brand from under-18 kit and supporter merchandise, we are very aware of our responsibility in this area.

“On this occasion, the Betway logo – due 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 remove it. .

“However, we accept the fine and will continue to work closely with the club to ensure this does not happen again.”

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