Ending illegal social media lotteries
The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) announced the shutdown of an illegal Facebook lottery after an investigation in partnership with UK law enforcement. The Commission teamed up with the Government Agency Intelligence Network (GAIN) and Facebook specialists to confirm and disrupt the unlicensed lotteries offered via the platform.
offered participants cash prizes, kids’ clothing, and toys
The illegal lotteries offered participants cash prizes, kids’ clothing, and toys. Officials identified two individuals as the promoters of the lottery and removed them from associated groups on Facebook. The North East Regional Special Operations and South West Regional Organized Crime Units issued cease and desist letters to the groups involved.
Facebook lottery shutdown details
Hundreds of people reportedly took part in the illegal lotteries, and officials used the investigation to determine who organized and oversaw the contests. Gambling Commission executive director Helen Venn stated that the regulator worked with Facebook and the police to locate the individuals and stop the activity from taking place.
Venn added that illegal lotteries would be a focus of the UKGC this year when it comes to enforcement work. The goal is to work with social media platforms to pinpoint the activity and those behind it. The recent Facebook lottery shutdown may be the first of many enforcement actions by the Commission in 2022.
the winners of the illegal lotteries are often the people running them
South West Regional Organized Crime Unit GAIN Coordinator David Gill pointed out that the winners of the illegal lotteries are often the people running them. These individuals continue to be persistent in operating such contests.
“We will continue to support the Gambling Commission in targeting and disrupting people profiting from such illegal schemes,” Gill said.
Unregulated lotteries affect the vulnerable people of the community, including those who have a gambling addiction. Such contests also neglect to provide funding to good causes. Plus, consumers taking part do not have legal protection as they would with licensed gaming options.
Similar fight in the Netherlands
The Facebook lottery shutdown in the UK is not the only time the social media site has been a platform for illegal gambling activities. Last year, Dutch gambling regulator Kansspelautoriteit (KSA) announced it was taking on Facebook and both illegal lottery and bingo operations.
In July 2021, KSA got Facebook to shut down an account that advertised illegal lottery gaming. The social media site deleted the entire account instead of focusing solely on the individual social media pages managed by the account.
KSA located several Facebook pages that offered illegal lottery gaming in the Netherlands. The person’s name behind the account changed continually. Because of this, the regulator asked the social media site to remove the account in full, a request to which Facebook agreed. KSA feels that illegal lotteries are a hazard because the contests do not adhere to regulations. It is also unclear if the games even exist or if the pages were just a front for taking people’s money.
In November 2021, the KSA announced the removal of a group called Dordtse Queens on Facebook for offering illegal online bingo games. The eight different admins used their personal Facebook pages to advertise the games, allowing other users to participate.
In total, Facebook removed six pages associated with the Dordtse Queens group. The gaming authority called the process a “spider web of illegal bingos.” KSA also pointed out that underage players had access to the games.