In a landmark ruling, the Regulato Regulator National Lottery has imposed a €150,000 (£128,130/$160,880) fine on Premier Lotteries Ireland (PLI) for breaches related to self-exclusion. This marks the first time the regulator has held payments from PLI for a license infringement. The penalty funds will be diverted to the exchequer for good causes.
While the terms of PLI's original license did not mandate a self-exclusion option for players, the company voluntarily instituted one in 2019. According to the regulations, Regulators then fell on PLI to ensure the self-exclusion system functioned correctly.
The issue began in 2021 when a faulty algorithm at PLI led to the deletion of 126 accounts belonging to self-excluded customers. Usually, operators must delete closed accounts after two years to comply with GDPR. However, the regulations that self-excluded accounts should be kept aside to prevent the owners from opening new profiles.
The breach allowed 16 self-excluded customers to create new accounts, with ten purchasing tickets and spending €3,292. Additionally, four of these users were also sent marketing emails from PLI.
Carol Boate, the regulator, stated,
After consideration of the investigator's report and the operator's representations, I determined that the operator had breached the license."
Boate emphasized that PLI ensured that people who had previously chosen to be permanently self-excluded couldn't make new accounts or purchases.
This enforcement action comes on the heels of PLI's recent acquisition by Française des Jeux (FDJ), the French national lottery operator, in a €350 million deal. FDJ bought PLI from the Ontario Teachers' Pension, Post, and Post Pension fund. PLI won the Irish National Lottery contract in 2014 and holds exclusive operating rights until 2034. Both parties confirmed that the acquisition would not affect PLI's license.
The case has raised eyebrows about the operational challenges of implementing self-exclusion mechanisms and may prompt other operators to re-evaluate their systems for compliance. It serves as a cautionary tale and a significant test case for the enforcement capabilities of the RegulatoRegulatorNational Lottery. The penalty stresses the regulatoRegulator'sent to responsible gaming and underscores the imperative for gaming companies to abide by self-exclusion mechanisms they put in place strictly.