The UKGC led the crackdown under the direction of the Government Agency Intelligence Network (GAIN) and focused on disrupting illegal/unlicensed lotteries that target UK consumers on Facebook. Notably, there was no mention of Facebook participating in the investigation.
The social media platform was monitored by investigative teams who discovered that illegal lotteries offered cash prizes and incentives to trick customers into buying fake tickets.
Two people were identified as being involved in illegal activity. They were removed from the associated Facebook groups following cease-and-desist letters issued by the North East Regional Special Operations (NSO) and South West Regional Organised Crime Units (SWROC).
Helen Venn, the Gambling Commission's executive director, stated that there were many people participating in these lotteries. However, it was crucial to identify those who were organizing and moderating them illegally.
"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," she added.
This joint investigation comes after the UKGC launched a new campaign earlier this month. It warns the public about illegal lotteries and illicit prize competitions, and how to spot them.
Venn, who heads the Commission's compliance, licensing and enforcement teams, said that many lotteries don't give money to charitable causes. Consumers participating in these lotteries do not receive legal protection.
She asserted, "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."
David Gill, South West Regional Organized Crime Unit GAIN Coordinator), pointed out that often the people who win illegal lotteries are the ones running them. They continue to operate such contests and scam others into thinking they'll win.
Unregulated lotteries can be harmful to the most vulnerable members of the community, such as those with gambling addiction. These contests do not provide funding for good causes. Consumers who participate in such contests do not have the same legal protection as those who play licensed games.