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UK – 888 fined £9.4m for social responsibility failings

By - 1 March 2022

An online gambling business will pay a £9.4m fine after a Gambling Commission investigation revealed 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 extensive independent auditing.

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

Andrew Rhodes, Gambling Commission Chief Executive, said: “The circumstances of the last enforcement action may be different but both cases involve failing consumers – and this is something that is not acceptable. 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,” he added.

Social responsibility failures included not effectively identifying players at risk of harm because their policies determined financial checks should be carried out after a customer had deposited £40,000. It was also charged with not carrying out a customer interaction with a customer who lost £37,000 in a six week period during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The interactions conducted predominately consisted of an email just detailing the responsible gambling tools and did not require a customer response. During a Commission assessment there was no evidence of the operator proactively placing restrictions on accounts where social responsibility concerns were raised. It gave a customer they knew was an NHS worker earning £1,400 a month a monthly deposit cap of £1,300. It was also found guilty of not ensuring that if a customer has multiple accounts those accounts are managed for customer interaction holistically and financial limits can be implemented across all accounts. In one example, a customer had one of his 11 accounts restricted because of Source of Funds (SOF) concerns, but he was allowed to open three more accounts and continue gambling.

Money laundering failures included implementing a policy where customers were allowed to deposit £40,000 before carrying out SOF checks. It accepted verbal assurances from customers as to employment income and being reliant on open-source information to validate SOF. It allowed one customer to spend £65,835 in just five months without SOF checks being carried out. It was also found guilty of not effectively implementing its own policies which stated that customers have 10 days to present SOF documentation before their account was restricted. In one case a customer’s SOF were not requested until three weeks after the 10 day trigger and lost £15,000 during that period.

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