On March 1, 2022, the Gambling Commission announced that it had imposed a fine on 888 UK Limited (“888“) following a series of breaches of their license terms and codes of practice (“the LCCPThe LCCP sets out measures that betting operators must follow, with the aim of ensuring that they have implemented their own policies and procedures to help protect customers and prevent money laundering practices. of responsibility.
888 had previously been fined £7.8million in 2017 for their failure to protect vulnerable customers. Details of which can be found here.
Over the past few years, the Gaming Commission has also sanctioned various other betting operators for LCCP breaches. These include, but are not limited to:-
- Daub Alderney Limited – £7.1m
- Casumo Services Limited – £5.85 million
- Mr Green Limited – £3 million
- Betway Limited – £11.6 million
- Caesars Entertainment UK Limited – £13 million
Fines and penalties imposed and financial settlements reached with betting operators in 2022 up to March 1 already total £12,802,313 and this is likely to rise further throughout the year.
888 were not only fined, but also received an official warning from the Gambling Commission as well as a thorough audit of their policies and practices. It has been confirmed by the Director General of the Gaming Commission that “…if there is a repeat of the failures at 888, we must seriously examine the operator’s ability to meet licensing objectives and ensure gambling safety and freedom from crime.”
The findings of the Gambling Commission included:-
Failures of social responsibility
- “Failing to effectively identify players at risk of harm because their policies determined that financial checks should be carried out after a customer had deposited £40,000;
- Failing to conduct a customer interaction with a customer who has lost £37,000 over a six week period during the Covid-19 pandemic;
- Disregard formal guidance from the Commission on interaction with customers;
- Giving a client they knew was an NHS worker earning £1,400 a month a monthly deposit cap of £1,300;
- Most of the interactions conducted consisted primarily of an email simply detailing responsible gambling tools and did not require a response from the customer;
- During a Commission assessment, there was no evidence that the operator was proactively imposing restrictions on accounts where social responsibility concerns had been raised;
- Not ensuring that if a customer has multiple accounts, those accounts are managed holistically for customer interaction and that financial limits can be implemented on all accounts. In one example, a client had one of his 11 accounts restricted due to source of funds (“FOS“), but he was allowed to open three more accounts and continue playing.”
Anti-money laundering defects:
- “Implementing a policy that customers were allowed to deposit £40,000 before performing SOF checks;
- Accept verbal assurances from clients as to employment income and rely on open source information to validate the SOF;
- Not specifying which documents must be requested as part of SOF checks;
- Allowing a customer to spend £65,835 in just 5 months without SOF checks being performed;
- Failing to effectively implement its own policies which stated that customers had 10 days to submit SOF documentation before their account was restricted. In one instance, a client’s SOF was not requested until three weeks after the 10 day trigger and lost £15,000 during that time.”
You can view the Gambling Commission’s full publication detailing their findings and penalties here.
What has been done and what is being done about the law in regards to safer gambling?
Although the Gambling Commission can impose fines and sanctions and investigate various betting operators, it is unfortunately unable to intervene on behalf of individual customers to force betting operators to refund their money to clients.
In July 2019, the Gaming Commission introduced the
“Customer interaction – formal guidance for remote gaming operators“. This provides betting operators with further guidance on their duties and responsibilities in ensuring that customers fully interact with them to prevent them from suffering gambling-related harm. It provides detailed information on the signs that betting operators should monitor and also what they should do to ensure that customers are not allowed to gamble beyond their means Full information on these tips can be found here.
The Gaming Commission also continues to update the LCCP with a view to putting in place new effective measures to minimize gambling-related harm, with the last LCCP updated in 2020.
The Gambling Act 2005 is outdated and the current legal framework needs to be updated to reflect changes in the industry and technology. There is a balancing act that will need to be performed in order to protect vulnerable customers without creating too onerous barriers for operators and customers who do not experience gambling-related harm.
Since December 2020, the Directorate for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has been under constant review (“DCMS“) on the reform of the current law. It is suggested that there will not be an update on this until about May this year (updates have already been delayed several times). Although ‘there is no information on reforms that will be made to the The current Gambling Act 2005 says there could be stricter checks on sources of funds to prevent addicts and vulnerable people to fall into financial harm and suffer substantial losses.
In addition, the creation of a gambling ombudsman has also been widely discussed, as current alternative dispute resolution providers such as IBAS and eCOGRA do not have the competence or means to deal with disputes. complaints about breaches of social responsibility. The introduction of a gambling ombudsman would help hold betting operators accountable for their misconduct and provide customers with the means to have complaints settled by an independent arbiter.
Gambling Commission fines 888 UK Limited £9.4m
Originally published on March 02, 2022
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide on the subject. Specialist advice should be sought regarding your particular situation.