• Tue. Sep 20th, 2022

Online operator 888 fined £9.4m

An online gambling firm will pay a £9.4million fine after a Gambling Commission investigation found social responsibility and money laundering failings.

888 UK Limited, which operates 78 websites including 888.com, has also received an official warning and will undergo a thorough independent audit.

This is the second time 888 UK Limited has faced enforcement action – in 2017 they paid a £7.8m fine for defaulting vulnerable customers.

Andrew Rhodes, chief executive of the Gambling Commission, said: “The circumstances of the latest enforcement action may be different, but both cases involve defaulting consumers – and that is something that is not acceptable.

“Today’s fine is one of our largest to date, and it should be clear that if there is a repeat failure at 888, we need to seriously consider the ability of the operator to meet licensing objectives and ensure game safety and crime free.

“UK consumers deserve to know that when they gamble they are participating in a leisure activity where operators play their part to keep them safe and carry out checks to ensure the money is crime free.”

Social accountability failures included:

  • failing to effectively identify players at risk of harm because their policies determined that financial checks should be carried out after a customer deposits £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
  • disregarding formal Commission guidance on interaction with customers
  • give a client he 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 ensure that if a customer has multiple accounts, those accounts are holistically managed for customer interaction and that financial limits can be implemented on all accounts. In one example, a customer had one of his 11 accounts restricted due to Source of Funds (SOF) issues, but he was allowed to open three other accounts and continue playing.

Money laundering failures included:

  • implement a policy where customers were allowed to deposit £40,000 before carrying out SOF checks
  • accept verbal assurances from clients as to employment income and rely on open source information to validate 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 carried out
  • 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 case, a client’s SOF was not requested until three weeks after the 10-day trigger and lost £15,000 in that time.

Read the full sanction from 888 UK Limited.

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Last update: March 1, 2022

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