For “widespread and worrying” social responsibility and anti-money-laundering breaches that came to light only days before the long-awaited revisions to Britain’s gambling regulations are finalized, William Hill has been fined a record £19 million, Entrepreneurng report.
The 888 Group-owned, 88-year-old bookmaking company acknowledged several wrongdoings, including allowing customers to lose tens of thousands of pounds shortly after opening an account.
The most extreme instances were during the Covid-19 lockdowns, when the Gambling Commission, which oversees the sector, had warned bookmakers and casinos against taking advantage of vulnerable persons who were kept inside for extended periods.
The problems persisted even after the government began a historic review of gambling legislation, which prompted the sector to pledge to raise safety standards.
William Hill and its sibling brand Mr. Green will pay a combined amount of £19.2 million, the highest fine in the history of the commission, but less than four days’ worth of earnings for its parent business, 888, which took in £1.8 billion in wagers last year.
The previous greatest sanction was £17 million, which Entain, the gaming company behind Ladbrokes and Coral, was hit with last August.
The regulator acknowledged that it had given license suspension for William Hill some thought but decided against it when the company moved quickly to implement adjustments. Although it has the authority to do so in response to persistent violations, the commission has never suspended a large operator’s license.
The Gambling Commission has levied sizable fines against Mr. Green, William Hill, and 888 in recent years. Mr. Green was hit with a £3 million fine in February 2020. For at least another year after then, William Hill’s brand continued to experience the shortcomings that resulted in the new record punishment.
These included allowing one customer to register a new account and spend $23,000 in 20 minutes, another to open an account and spend $18,000 in 24 hours, and a third customer to open an account and spend £32,500 over two days—all without running any checks.
William Hill was also found to have failed to recognize the potential for harm or act sooner with some consumers; one lost £54,252 in four weeks without the operator requesting income documentation or performing sufficient checks.
A 24-hour waiting period between receiving and approving requests for credit limit increases was also ignored by the business, allowing one customer to immediately place a £100,000 wager even though his credit limit was only set at £70,000.
Operators now employ algorithms to identify gambling damages or criminal risk more immediately, engage with customers earlier, and have more efficient regulations and procedures overall.
Source: The Guardian