William Hill To Pay Record £19.2m For 'Widespread And Alarming' Failings

March 28, 2023
Back
Three William Hill Group businesses will pay a record £19.2m in a UK enforcement case, with the Gambling Commission warning that the anti-money laundering and social responsibility failings were so alarming that “serious consideration” was given to suspending the operator's licence.

Body

Three William Hill Group businesses will pay a record £19.2m in a UK enforcement case, with the Gambling Commission warning that the anti-money laundering (AML) and social responsibility failings were so alarming that “serious consideration” was given to suspending the operator's licence.

WHG International, which runs the company’s online operations, will pay £12.5m, Mr Green will pay £3.7m and the William Hill Organization, which runs 1,344 British betting shops, will pay £3m, the Gambling Commission said today (March 28).

William Hill’s non-US operations have been owned by London-listed 888 Holdings since July 2022, buying them after Caesars Entertainment purchased the whole company in April 2021.

The social responsibility failings centred on the companies having inadequate controls to protect new players or to effectively consider high-velocity spending and time of play until the player risked losing substantial money in a short period of time, the regulator said.

For example, one player was allowed to open a new account and spend £23,000 in 20 minutes, the commission said.

Another player was allowed to open an account and spend £18,000 in 24 hours without any checks, while yet another, at Mr Green, was allowed to open a new account and spend £32,500 over two days without checks.

Mr Green also failed to identify some players at risk of experiencing harm and failed to carry out checks early enough, with one player losing nearly £15,000 in 70 minutes, the commission said.

A William Hill customer lost nearly £55,000 in a month without the company seeking evidence of income, carrying out adequate checks or using any other method to identify risk of harm, the regulator said.

Andrew Rhodes, Gambling Commission chief executive, stated: “When we launched this investigation the failings we uncovered were so widespread and alarming serious consideration was given to licence suspension.”

But because the company “immediately recognised their failings and worked with us to swiftly implement improvements, we instead opted for the largest enforcement payment in our history”, he said.

William Hill failed to apply a 24-hour delay between getting a request for a boost in credit limit and granting it.

For example, one player was allowed to immediately place a £100,000 bet when his credit had been set for £70,000, the regulator wrote.

Lax controls let 330 players gamble with William Hill despite having self-excluded with Mr Green, the commission said.

After retail shops reopened following COVID-19 lockdowns, the operator allowed one player to lose £10,600 in two days without safer-gambling interactions, the regulator said.

At another shop, a previously unknown player was allowed to wager £42,000 in 130 bets over a three-day period, without any customer interactions.

Overall AML failings included allowing players to deposit large sums of money without appropriate checks, with one William Hill player allowed to gamble and lose more than £70,000 in a month, another losing £38,000 in five weeks and another losing £36,000 in four days.

At Mr Green, one player deposited more than £73,000 and lost £14,000 in four months, without appropriate AML checks being applied, the regulator said.

In retail shops, players were able to stake large sums without being monitored or adequately scrutinised, with no source-of-funds (SOF) checks made on a player who gambled £19,000 on a single bet and none sought on a player who staked nearly £40,000 and lost more than £20,000 in 12 days, the commission said.

Another player wagered £277,000 and lost £24,000 in two months without SOF checks.

At William Hill Online and Mr Green, policies, procedures and controls lacked guidance on appropriate action to take in customer profiling, and how to implement the procedures.

Last week, the commission fined two Kindred Group units £7.2m.

Since the start of 2022 the commission has concluded 26 enforcement cases with operators paying more than £76m because of regulatory failures.

The previous largest penalty was £17m against Entain in August 2022.

Despite the penalties, Rhodes said there were "signs of improvement" in gambling operators' behaviour.

"There are indications that the industry is doing more to make gambling safer and reducing the possibility of criminal funds entering their businesses," he said.

“Operators are using algorithms to spot gambling harms or criminal risk more quickly, interacting with consumers sooner, and generally having more effective policies and procedures in place."

Our premium content is available to users of our services.

To view articles, please Log-in to your account, or sign up today for full access:

Opt in to hear about webinars, events, industry and product news

To find out more about Vixio, contact us today
No items found.