UKGC shuts down illegal Facebook lotteries in cross-agency probe


The UK Gambling Commission has revealed that a cross-agency investigation has successfully shut down illegal lotteries that were operational on social media site Facebook.

In conducting the investigation, the regulator worked with UK law enforcement partners through the Government Agency Intelligence Network and specialists from the social networking platform.

The illegal lotteries, which offered a variety of cash prizes, children’s toys and clothing, saw two individuals identified for promoting illegal activity and removed from associated Facebook groups.

This was done after the issuance of cease and desist letters by the North East Regional Special Operations and South West Regional Organised Crime Units had been conducted.

David Gill, GAIN coordinator at the South West Regional Organised Crime Unit, commented: “We know the actual winners in illegal lotteries, which often promise high value prizes and cash draws, are too often the people running them – and they are persistent in their attempts to keep operating.

“We will continue to support the Gambling Commission in targeting and disrupting people profiting from such illegal schemes.

“Work like this shows the value and absolute necessity of the full range of enforcement agencies working together as part of the GAIN network.”

The Commission says that its probe focused on the operation of illegal and unlicensed lotteries “given the risks they posed to consumers and vulnerable people”.

Helen Venn, executive director of the UKGC, noted that these lotteries fail to give any funds to good causes, with consumers taking part not benefiting from legal protection.

“There were hundreds of people taking part in these lotteries but it was important to identify those who were organising and moderating them illegally,” she explained.

“Working alongside our colleagues at Facebook and the police, we are pleased that key individuals have been identified and this type of activity, which only increases the risk of gambling harm, has been disrupted.

“Illegal lotteries, including those taking place through social media channels, will continue to be a focus for our enforcement work this year as we link up closely with platforms like Facebook to pinpoint not only the activity, but those behind it and those who are breaching gambling rules and social media standards.”