Dutch Gambling Regulator Gets Facebook to Delete Account Operating Illegal Lottery Pages

  • KSA found that the account had different people operating it at different times
  • Illegal lotteries are not licensed, not regulated, and could be scamming customers
  • KSA has worked with Facebook to oust illegal lottery operators since November
  • Snapchat now allows users to opt-out of gambling-related ads
Facebook logo printed on blue paper squares
Dutch gambling regulator Kansspelautoriteit identified a fake Facebook account that ran multiple illegal lottery pages and got the social media company to delete it. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Ask and you shall receive

Dutch gambling regulator Kansspelautoriteit (KSA) has gotten Facebook to axe an account that advertised illegal lotteries. On Tuesday, KSA announced that this is the first time an entire account was deleted, as opposed to just the individual social media pages that it managed.

The regulator broadly defines a “fake” account as one that “cannot be traced back to one natural person or organization.” It is effectively a shadow account, one where whatever entity that is operating it is intentionally obscuring their identity.

KSA found that the name of the person behind the account constantly changed

In this case, the account in question managed multiple Facebook pages that offered illegal lotteries. Upon investigation, KSA found that the name of the person behind the account constantly changed. It requested that Facebook delete the account, a request which Facebook honored.

KSA says it is going after illegal lotteries because they are not licensed and therefore are not supervised by the regulator. Without supervision, there is no guarantee that the game is on the up-and-up or even exists at all.

KSA gives account holder a warning

KSA began collaborating with Facebook to weed out illegal lotteries in November 2020. The type of lottery the regulator is specifically targeting is known as a “dipping” lottery, which are mainly advertising and accessed on the social media site.

In a dipping lottery, players pay for entries for drawings that supposedly have the chance of awarding cash and prizes (of course, we don’t know if there are actually any prizes at all). The fees are transferred to operators that could be based in the Netherlands or elsewhere in the world.

The typical process to combat these groups is for the KSA to send a communication to the illegal lottery organizer, letting them know that they are violating the law. The regulator also reports any pages it finds to Facebook and then waits for Facebook to take action.

Snapchat trying to protect minors

Another popular social media app, Snapchat, has also taken a step toward protecting users from unwanted gambling sites. In this case, however, it is not necessarily combating illegal sites, but rather giving users the option to block gambling-related advertisements. The opt-out update is designed to protect people in the UK who are under the age of 16.

According to the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC), Snapchat was the third-biggest offender in letting minors see gambling ads, after YouTube and Instagram. According to a 2019 report by the UKGC, about 41,000 app users under 16 years of age were exposed to gambling-related ads on social media.

In a statement last week, the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) applauded Snapchat’s move, noting that it has been working with the app’s parent company, Snap, on more responsible gambling practices.

yet more evidence of our commitment to raising standards in the regulated industry”

“This is yet more evidence of our commitment to raising standards in the regulated industry,” said BGC chief executive Michael Dugher. “I welcome this move by Snapchat and I would urge all social media and search platforms to provide the ability for users to opt out of viewing betting adverts.”

Last year, the BGC issued an updated Industry Code for Socially Responsible Advertising, which states that all members must make sure that they only target people 25 and up on social media. BGC members may target users as young as 18 as long as they can prove the ads can be “precisely targeted” and not inadvertently seen by anyone younger.

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