888 To Pay £2.9m To Settle Gibraltar Claims Over Middle East Gamblers

August 15, 2023
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​​​​​​​888 Holdings has agreed to pay £2.9m to a Gibraltar fund in a settlement in lieu of a fine over shortcomings in anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing policies in dot.com markets in the Middle East.

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888 Holdings has agreed to pay £2.9m to a Gibraltar fund in a settlement in lieu of a fine over shortcomings in anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing policies in dot.com markets in the Middle East.

Know your customer (KYC) controls were ineffective, including failures to properly record and verify addresses, there was a “historical over-reliance” on high thresholds for enhanced due diligence checks and policy inconsistencies that led to a failure to identify the “suspicious nature of a very limited number of accounts”, according to Gibraltar’s Gambling Division.

The announcement today (August 15) follows a three-month investigation by 888 and Gibraltar’s Gambling Division.

In January, the company said it was suspending VIP activities in some Middle Eastern markets while it conducted an internal investigation.

That announcement was coupled with another, that chief executive and long-time executive Itai Pazner was resigning, effective immediately.

888 over-relied on open-source checks and failed to ask players to provide necessary details on source of funds and wealth in a number of cases, the division said.

In agreeing to a settlement, the Gambling Commissioner considered that 888 “promptly declared” the issue upon discovery and it immediately suspended the accounts despite incurring “significant revenue loss”, the division wrote.

The Gibraltar-based company also immediately launched an internal compliance review, systems were quickly improved and staff collaborated with the division to verify improvement, the division said.

“No specific cases were identified which involved 888 dealing with the proceeds of crime or terrorist financing,” it said.

Part of the settlement funds will go to the Centre of Excellence for Responsible Gaming at the University of Gibraltar for research in prevention and treatment of gambling disorder, the division said.

Per Widerström will assume 888’s CEO role in mid-October. Lord Jonathan Mendelsohn is currently functioning as executive chair.

In March 2022, the UK Gambling Commission fined 888 £9.4m for social responsibility and AML failings.

The company’s licence is currently under review in the UK over investment from ex-Entain executives, including its former CEO Kenny Alexander.

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