LONDON (Reuters) - British authorities fined online gambling group Betway about 400,000 pounds ($453,280) on Wednesday for marketing on the children's section of a soccer club's website, an error the company attributed to a technical glitch.
The Gambling Commission said it had found Betway's gambling logo, linking to its website, on a section of West Ham United's club website offering kids the chance to print a teddy bear to colour, during a period between April 2020 and November 2021.
"Although there is no suggestion that the operator was deliberately targeting children, or that children had been allowed to gamble, we take the breach of any rules aimed at protecting children extremely seriously," Gambling Commission Director of Enforcement Leanne Oxley said.
The commission also found a similar Betway logo on the "Young Hammers at Home" website between October and November last year. Its total penalty for Betway amounts to 408,915 pounds.
"We took immediate action to get it removed. Nonetheless, we accept the fine and will continue to work closely with the Club to ensure this does not happen again," Betway, owned by Super Group, said in a statement.
Britain has been tightening rules on gambling since the early 2000s, sharpening its focus on betting via digital channels especially since coronavirus lockdowns led to surge in online activity.
The government is also expected to publish a white paper - a proposal for future legislation - on gambling regulation.
A ban on gambling advertisements featuring celebrities, sports people and social media influencers popular with children takes effect next month.
Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo and former Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho have previously appeared in gambling ads.
Betway, founded in 2006, offers sports betting services and casino entertainment and holds licences throughout Europe, the Americas and Africa.
($1 = 0.8816 pounds)
(Reporting by Muvija M; Editing by Mark Potter)