In the United Kingdom and the Gambling Commission regulator has announced the imposition of a £9.4 million ($12.5 million) fine against the 888 UK Limited subsidiary of prominent online casino and sportsbetting operator 888 Holdings Limited.
The watchdog used an official press release to declare that the penalty also includes an ‘official warning’ as well as a requirement for the firm to ‘undergo extensive independent auditing’ and was instituted after an investigation uncovered a number of ‘social responsibility and money laundering failings’.
The Gambling Commission asserted that 888 Holdings Limited is responsible for 78 domains including 888.com, 888Casino.com and 888Poker.com and was hit with a £7.8 million ($10.4 million) fine in 2017 for ‘failing vulnerable customers.’ It moreover noted that the most recent penalty comes just weeks before the government is expected to publish a raft of ‘white paper’ gambling reform proposals that could well encompass increased affordability checks to ensure punters can afford the amounts they are wagering.
Andrew Rhodes serves as the Chief Executive for the Gambling Commission and he used the press release to detail that 888 UK Limited was cited for numerous social responsibility failures including not carrying out financial checks until customers had deposited at least £40,000 ($53,300). The watchdog disclosed that the iGaming operator had also not interacted with one customer despite the fact that the punter had lost around £37,000 ($49,300) in only six weeks during the height of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Gambling Commission divulged that 888 UK Limited was furthermore blasted for not following its formal guidance on customer interaction and for granting one customer it knew earned only £1,400 ($1,800) a month with a monthly deposit cap of £1,300 ($1,700). The regulator pronounced that the operator had additionally failed to holistically manage players holding multiple accounts, had interacted with at-risk punters via e-mails that did not require a response and had shown no evidence of ‘proactively placing restrictions on accounts where social responsibility concerns were raised.’
Regarding the ‘money laundering failures’ at 888 UK Limited and the Gambling Commission proclaimed that customers had been permitted to deposit up to £40,000 before any source-of-funds checks were conducted while one player had escaped any such scrutiny despite parting with £65,835 ($87,800) after just five months. The regulator additionally condemned the operator for ‘accepting verbal assurances from customers as to employment income’ and for relying on open-source information to corroborate any assessments.
Read a statement from Rhodes…
“The circumstances of the last enforcement action may be different but both cases involve failing consumers and this is something that is not acceptable. Today’s fine is one of our largest to date and all should be clear that if there is a repeat of the failures at 888 UK Limited then we have to seriously consider the suitability of the operator to uphold the licensing objectives and keep gambling safe and crime-free. Consumers in Britain deserve to know that when they gamble, they are participating in a leisure activity where operators play their part in keeping them safe and are carrying out checks to ensure money is crime-free.”