Duplicate tickets, missed winnings and marketing blunders lead to an unwelcome send off for the National Lottery operator.
UK.- It’s been a bad couple of weeks for Camelot, the operator of the UK’s National Lottery. Last week, it learned it had lost the tender for the fourth National Lottery licence to start in 2024, spelling the end of its tenure in what will be the lottery’s 30th year. Now to add to its woes, it’s been hit with a £3.15m fine from the Gambling Commission for failings related to its mobile app.
The Gambling Commission found three major failures dating as far back as November 2016, including cases in which players were wrongly told that winning tickets were not winners. There were also cases of duplicate ticket purchases and of marketing sent to customers that had self-excluded from gambling.
The cases of missed winnings involved a problem with the QR scanner in the iOS version of the National Lottery app, which led to players being told winning tickets were not winners. Camelot disabled the QR feature, which players can use to scan Lottery tickets with their phones to check if they are winners, and informed the regulator of the issue on September 23, 2020.
It was unable to ascertain exactly how many customers had been affected, but estimated up to 20,000 ticket scans between November 2016 and September 2020 may have generated incorrect non-winner messages, resulting in between £48,000 and £68,000 worth of missed winnings.
The cases of duplicate ticket purchases occurred in October 2022. Some 22,210 players bought two tickets for the same draw by error because they believed that their first purchase had been unsuccessful. This happened because when players clicked “Buy Now”, they were logged out of the app instead of being taken to the ticket confirmation page.
When they logged back in, they were returned to the “Buy Now” message, causing them to believe their purchase had not gone through and to buy a second ticket. The players were later refunded or had both tickets honoured as winners in cases where they had winning numbers.
Finally, the Gambling Commission also found Camelot to have been at fault for sending push notifications to players that had self-excluded from gambling or had been identified by the operator itself as being at-risk.
Camelot told the regulator that it has the ability to put suppression flags on accounts to prevent notifications or marketing being sent but that a “delayed trigger event” in the player journey caused a “data transmission problem” occurring when some players moved between multiple apps while the lottery app was open.
This could sometimes lead to a player being classed as anonymous and not being associated with protection measures on their account. This caused in-app marketing push notifications to be sent to some players on Camelot’s suppressed list, affecting around 65,400 players between February 2018 and January 2021.
The Gambling Commission recently fined Sky Betting & Gaming (Sky Bet) £1.17m for an erroneous email distribution of promotional emails to self-excluded customers last November.
The Gambling Commission “will not hesitate to issue fines if requirements are breached”
The Gambling Commission noted that Camelot had taken corrective action but found that the failures could have affected the reputation of the National Lottery and had disadvantaged players. It noted concerns about the recurrence of problems but found no evidence of negligence.
Gambling Commission chief executive Andrew Rhodes 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.”
Fourth National Lottery licence
Last week, the Gambling Commission announced it had chosen Allwyn Entertainment as its preferred applicant for the next UK National Lottery licence. It will be the first time that anyone other than Camelot has run the National Lottery since it started in 1994.
Allwyn is the new name for the Czech lottery giant formerly known as Sazka. The company has operations throughout Europe, particularly in the Czech Republic, Austria, Greece (OPAP) and Italy (Lotto Gioco).
The other competitors in the tender for the fourth licence period were Italy’s Sisal, which is being acquired by Flutter, and Richard Desmond’s Northern & Shell. India’s Sugal & Damani had expressed an interest but didn’t advance to the final stage.
Camelot was named as the reserve applicant.