888 To Pay £9.4m Fine For UK Failings

March 1, 2022
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The UK Gambling Commission has handed 888 its largest ever fine and warned that the operator’s future in the country is at risk if it slips up again.

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The UK Gambling Commission has handed 888 its largest ever fine and warned that the operator’s future in the country is at risk if it slips up again.

The regulator announced on Monday that 888 would pay a £9.4m fine, receive an official warning and undergo extensive independent auditing for a series of social responsibility and money laundering failures.

The penalty is the largest single fine ever issued by the commission and comes after a £7.8m fine for 888 for failing vulnerable customers in 2017.

Problems pinpointed by the regulator in this latest investigation include a policy of not performing thorough financial checks unless a customer had deposited more than £40,000.

888 also did not carry out a customer interaction with a player who lost £37,000 in six weeks during the pandemic and offered an NHS worker a monthly deposit cap of £1,300, even though it knew the individual earned only £1,400 a month, the commission said.

Most interactions with customers by the operator consisted of an email that merely listed responsible gambling tools and did not require a customer response, the commission said.

The regulator said that it conducted an assessment and found no evidence that 888 was proactively putting limits on accounts where it had flagged problem gambling concerns.

Money laundering failings included, in some cases, accepting verbal assurances from customers on their employment income, said the commission.

888 also allowed one customer to spend £65,835 in five months without any source of funds checks being carried out.

Gambling Commission chief executive, Andrew Rhodes, warned that after receiving two of the largest fines in UK gambling history, 888 was under close scrutiny.

“The circumstances of the last enforcement action may be different but both cases involve failing consumers — and this is something that is not acceptable,” said Rhodes.

“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 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.”

In its own statement, 888 said the penalty related to investigations undertaken by the commission in October 2020 and that it had been working to improve its processes since then.

“We recognise our responsibility to make gambling safer and regret that previous implementation of our processes failed to meet required standards in the UK," said Itai Pazner, 888 chief executive.

"Over recent years we have made significant investments in safer gambling, including more than doubling the size of our compliance team since 2019. We will continue to work closely with the UKGC [UK Gambling Commission], our peers and other stakeholders to drive continuous improvement in the industry.

"We continue to prioritise safer gambling by investing in technology as a force for good, giving customers transparency about their activity and using sophisticated AI to detect and block harmful play. We know that our work in this area must be ongoing and we remain committed to continuing investment in meeting our safer gambling objectives," he said.

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