UKGC Threatens to Spoil Operators’ Fantasy Football Dreams For Licence Breaches

Fantasy football operators have been warned that they face stiff penalties if they breach the UK’s gambling regulations ahead of the new football season.

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UKGC warns fantasy football operators not to breach its licensing rules or advertising guidelines. (Image: dailymail.co.uk)

With just a few weeks to go until the new football seasons start across England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland, the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has reconfirmed its position on fantasy leagues.

In a public note dated July 17, the UKGC pointed out that any fantasy football competition that has a commercial interest could fall under its remit.

New Spotlight on Fantasy Football

Although fantasy football tournaments have long been a popular activity in the UK, the UKGC is now working harder than ever to prevent illegal operations from scamming punters.

In line with this, the regulatory body has reminded all operators that public competitions with an undetermined prizepool require a licence.

“Fantasy football leagues can require a pool betting operating licence because the prize values are determined by the number of paying entrants,” states the UKGC’s official guidelines.

In practice, only fantasy football competitions that aren’t being run as a business (i.e. for profit) or by work colleagues/friends are excluded from the UK’s gambling laws. Beyond the process of offering fantasy football, the UKGC is also concerned about the way legitimate competitions are advertised.

Advertising a Hot Topic for UKGC

Over the last 12 months the UKGC has made the promotion of gambling products one of its main targets. Back in May 2017, the UKGC fined bgo £300,000 for sustained failures relating to the promotion of its bonuses.

Despite previous warnings, bgo failed to correctly explain the nature of its “free bets” by not making it clear that players would only be able to withdraw their funds after betting for real money. Following this record fine, the UKGC hit Lottoland with a £150,000 penalty in June.

After reviewing complaints upheld by the Advertising Standard Agency (ASA), the UKGC concluded the Lottoland hadn’t made it clear that customers weren’t actually buying lottery tickets. Instead, what Lottoland customers are actually doing is betting on the outcome of a lottery draw.

Some punters were unaware of this according to the ASA and that forced the UKGC to take action. This type of action is something the UKGC has made clear it will carry out again if fantasy football operators fail to explain the risks associated with gambling or what the nature of their competitions are.

Fantasy football companies, moreover betting operators as a whole, are now being forced to tread a fine line with regards to advertising.

With the UKGC keen to tackle problem gambling, issues like this are set to become more pronounced in the coming months are fantasy football operators vie for position during the 2017/201 season.

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