UK police take action against unlicensed lotteries on Facebook

Police have vowed to scrutinise any other unlicensed lotteries run on Facebook.
Police have vowed to scrutinise any other unlicensed lotteries run on Facebook.

Officers have confiscated the profits earned by an organiser of unlicensed lotteries.

UK.- Police have confiscated close to £140,000 from a man who was found to be running illegal lotteries via his Facebook account. Officers began investigating the 27-year-old man from Middlesbrough in 2020. He was found to have been running unlicensed lotteries including bonus ball and raffle games for his own personal gain.

A proceeds of crime hearing granted police a forfeiture order for close to £140,000 held in several bank accounts. Economic crime officers worked on the investigation with assistance from the UK regulator the Gambling Commission. The Confiscation Team has warned anyone involved in similar criminal activity to expect to face “intense scrutiny”. 

While charities are allowed to run lotteries if they qualify as exempt under the Gambling Act 2005, it is illegal to run a lottery for private or commercial gain in the UK without a licence. 

Sergeant Suzanne Boulton from the Confiscation Team said: “This was a complex investigation and our officers, in particular DC Deborah Southall, conducted a comprehensive investigation to achieve this outcome. I’d like to thank the Gambling Commission for their assistance, particularly in providing evidence which supported our enquiries.

“No one should profit from criminal activity and the Proceeds of Crime Act enables police and partner agencies to confiscate cash, including money held in bank accounts and other physical assets gained through illegal means. This result serves as a stark warning that anyone involved in such activity can expect to find themselves the focus of intense scrutiny and any so-called ill-gotten gains can be forfeit.”

Earlier this week, the Gambling Commission revealed new rules requiring licensed online gambling operators to identify and intervene with at-risk players as a measure to reduce gambling harm. Operators will have to monitor a “specific range of indicators as a required minimum to identify gambling harms”.

The full guidelines are to be published in June ahead of implementation on September 12. The regulator said the new measures had been drawn up due to “continued failings by licensed operators”. It believes that operators have the ability to identify at-risk customers but are still taking too long to intervene.

Last week, the regulator’s chief executive Andrew Rhodes spoke at the ICE 2022 World Regulatory Briefing in London. He used his appearance to call for international gambling regulators to collaborate to tackle new challenges brought by changes in the industry. He voiced hope for collaboration not only in sharing experiences and best practice, but also to conduct joint investigations and other actions.

Earlier in the week, the Gambling Commission had come under fire in the press for awarding itself £155m from National Lottery ticket sales to cover the costs of the tender for the lottery’s next licence.

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