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The 10 Biggest Fines Imposed by Gambling Commission


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Gambling is undoubtedly one of the most heavily regulated business activities in the world. Even though regulatory authorities, laws and compliance requirements may differ from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, it’s widely known that betting penalties may range from lifetime bans and license withdrawals to financial fines and even lengthy prison sentences for the culprits.

Being compliant to laws and regulations isn’t just a good practice but is also of great importance to gambling operators and companies in terms of ensuring that their businesses remain shrewd and judicious.

Rules and Regulations required by the Gambling Commission
Rules and Regulations required by the Gambling Commission

To drive this point home, here are 10 of the largest penalties ever imposed on betting companies by the Gambling Commission.

  1. 888 - £7.8 million

In its decade of existence, the Gambling Commission imposed a record £7.8 million on 888 in August 2017.

Why was 888 Fined?

This huge fine was imposed on 888 for its failure to protect vulnerable gambling customers and for having “significant flaws” in its social responsibility procedures. The Gambling Commission pointed out that the firm, through an avoidable technical failure, allowed 7,000 vulnerable customers, who had chosen to take time out from gambling, to continue with their gambling ways.

The regulatory commission noted that 888 allowed these customers to deposit up to £3.5 million in a period of 13 months with one customer, who had been identified as a problem gambler, allowed to bet £1.3 million. The said customer had even stolen £55,000 from his employer to finance his gambling ways and could bet for up to 4 hours a day!

According to the commission, part of the fine would be used to refund £3.5 million deposited by the customers who had taken time out but were allowed to continue gambling. £62,000 would be given to the employer who had his money stolen while the remaining £4.25 million would be used to finance a socially responsible cause that could help in tackling gambling problems.

Social responsibility requirements (gamblingcommission.gov.uk)
Social responsibility requirements (gamblingcommission.gov.uk)
  1. William Hill - £6.2 Million

The company was fined £6.2 million by the industry regulatory authority in March 2018.

Why was William Hill Fined?

The company, considered as one of the leading sport gambling websites of the industry, had failed to prevent money laundering thus leaving customers exposed. The Gambling Commission discovered that for over two years, William Hill (read player's review here) had failed to spot or report palpable signs of gambling problems among its customers, thereby breaching social responsibility regulations in the process.

The commission also confirmed that the firm allowed more than 10 customers to deposit money linked to criminal offenses, thus breaching anti-money laundering regulations.

  1. Gala Interactive - £2.3 Million

Gala Interactive, which is part of Ladbrokes Coral, was fined £2.3 million in November 2017.

Why was Gala Interactive Fined?

The firm had failed to control problem gambling behavior. The fine revolved around two gamblers who had stolen, gambled and lost £1.3 million between them. This fine would be used to pay back those who had money stolen from them by the two gamblers, now serving lengthy prison sentences. The remaining £1 million would be used to fund studies into gambling addiction.

  1. 32Red - £2 Million

After investigating on the firm’s dealing with a single customer for a period between November 2014 and April 2017, the Gambling Commission recently fined 32Red £2 million.

Why was 32Red Fined?

The company had failed to carry out its social responsibility by allowing the said customer to deposit £758,000 without due checks or raising questions. 32Red also failed to carry out its anti-money laundering responsibility by failing to investigate or question the customer’s source of wealth.

Money laundering and terrorist financing risk assessment
Money laundering and terrorist financing risk assessment (gamblingcommission.gov.uk)
  1. Skybet - £1 Million

Skybet was fined £1,008,600 by the Gambling Commission in April 2018.

Why was Skybet Fined?

The commission found out that the gambling company had breached gambling regulations on three different occasions. Through its technical failures, the company had allowed 736 self-exiled customers to open duplicate accounts and continue with their addictive gambling activities in a period running from November 2014 to November 2017. The company also sent 50,000 self-exiled customers marketing materials via texts, emails and smartphone apps. Lastly, the company had failed to refund 36,748 self-exiled customers after they closed their accounts.

  1. Betfred - £800,000

Betfred was required to pay £800,000 by the Gambling Commission in June 2016 as part of a regulatory penalty following a license review.

Why was Betfred Fined?

The Commission carried out its own investigations after the betting company was widely mentioned in a court case where one of its customers had been jailed for more than three years for having stolen from his employer to fund his gambling activities. The betting company had failed in its anti-money laundering and social responsibility policies.

The Commission stated that £443,000 would be paid to the person whose money had been stolen while the remaining £344,500 would be used to fund a socially responsible cause as deemed right by the commission. The betting operator was also required to conduct an independent third-party review and audit of its anti-money laundering and social responsibility procedures.

  1. LeoVegas - £600,000

The betting firm was fined £600,000 by the Gambling Commission in May 2018.

Why was LeoVegas Fined?

The commission found out that the LeoVegas had irresponsibly carried out 41 ads that misled consumers in the period between April 2017 and January 2018. The company also failed to refund the 11,205 self-exiled customers who had closed their accounts and sent marketing texts and emails to 1,894 of the self-exiled customers without their permission. A further 413 clients had also been allowed to continue gambling despite self-exiling themselves from any gambling activity.

  1. GVC Holdings - £350,000

GVC Holdings, which owns bwin and its operating subsidiary Electraworks, was fined £350,000 by the Gambling Commission in February 2018.

Why was GVC Holdings Fined?

The company had repeatedly misled customers with ads revolving around free bonuses. The company had also employed a head of marketing and advertising without the required personal management license.

Licence conditions and codes of practice (LCCP)
Licence conditions and codes of practice (LCCP) - gamblingcommission.gov.uk
  1. BGO Entertainment - £300,000

The £300,000 fine on BGO Entertainment by the Gambling Commission in May 2017 was basically the first financial penalty imposed by the powerful regulatory authority in relation to advertising irregularities.

Why was BGO Entertainment Fined?

The company had published misleading ads both on its own and affiliates websites. The company didn’t rectify the misleading adverts in a timely and effective manner and provided inaccurate information stating that the misleading advert issue had been resolved.

  1. Paddy Power - £280,000

Bookmaker Paddy Power was fined £280,000 by the Gambling Commission in February 2016.

Why was Paddy Power Fined?

The Irish betting company had failed to observe its social responsibility by encouraging a problem gambler to gamble until he lost five jobs, his home and access to his children.

Conclusion

By being compliant to laws and regulations, gambling companies will significantly avoid being exposed to risks of heavy sanctions and penalties such as the above-mentioned ones while crucially avoiding damaging their reputation in the industry.