The UK Gambling Commission has successfully shut down illegal lotteries operating on Facebook following a deep investigation.
In a news article published yesterday (February 2nd), the Gambling Commission revealed that it worked with the Government Agency Intelligence Network (GAIN) and specialists from the social media platform to look into the operation of illegal and unlicensed lotteries.
According to the Gambling Commission, the investigation found that the illegal lotteries offered a variety of cash prizes as well as clothing and children’s toys. The investigation identified two individuals that were promoting illegal activity in associated Facebook groups.
The individuals were removed from the Facebook groups after they were issued with cease and desist letters by the North East Regional Special Operations and the South West Regional Organised Crime Units.
Helen Venn, the Executive Director of the Gambling Commission, said in a statement: “There were hundreds of people taking part in these lotteries but it was important to identify those who were organising and moderating them illegally.
“Working alongside our colleagues at Facebook and the police, we are pleased that key individuals have been identified and this type of activity, which only increases the risk of gambling harm, has been disputed.”
She added: “Illegal lotteries, including those taking place through social media channels, will continue to be a focus for our enforcement work this year as we link up closely with platforms like Facebook to pinpoint not only the activity, but those behind it and those who are breaching gambling rules and social media standards.”
David Gill, GAIN Coordinator at the South West Regional Organised Crime Unit, commented: “We know the actual winners in illegal lotteries, which often promise high-value prizes and cash draws, are too often the people running them – and they are persistent in their attempts to keep operating.
“We will continue to support the Gambling Commission in targeting and disrupting people profiting from such illegal schemes. Work like this shows the value and absolute necessity of the full range of enforcement agencies working together as part of the GAIN network.”
Kevin Benson, GAIN Coordinator at the North East Regional Special Operations Unit, said: “It’s important to acknowledge the harm illegal gambling can cause, especially when unregulated lotteries like these benefit from targeting some of the most vulnerable people in our communities, especially those caught up in a cycle of addiction.
“We will continue to work alongside our partners and help assist in the distribution of illegal lotteries and other gambling platforms.”
The news comes as the UK government continues its review of the Gambling Act 2005, with ministers expected to produce a White Paper later this year. The review may lead to some changes within the gambling industry, including a potential ban on sports betting sponsorships.