Gambling Commission Fines 888 £9.4m for Series of Failures

The United Kingdom Gambling Commission has hit 888 with a fine of £9.4 million for a number of social responsibility and money laundering failings, such as setting its deposit threshold for financial checks at £40,000.

When issuing the fine, Andrew Rhodes, the Commission’s chief executive, gave a stark warning that if the failings are repeated, the regulator may “seriously consider the suitability of the operator”.

The UKGC announced that it had found a number of breaches of licensing conditions, including condition 12.1.1, which deals with money laundering and terrorist financing, and condition 12.1.2, which deals with operators based in foreign jurisdictions. The operator also breached social responsibility code provision 3.4.1 related to customer interaction as well as SRCP 3.9.1, which relates to customer identification.

For example, 888 was found not to have contacted a player who lost £37,000 in six weeks during the pandemic. Another example cited was 888 allowing an NHS worker who earned £1,400 a month to set a £1,300 monthly deposit cap.

The UKGC noted that the vast majority of 888’s customer interactions were simply sending an email with details about responsible gambling tools, and they did not require a response. The Commission also said that it could find no evidence of 888 proactively placing restrictions on accounts where concerns were raised.

888 also failed to ensure that if players had multiple accounts that they were treated as a single entity in regards to customer interaction and financial limitations. For example, one customer had just one of eleven accounts restricted due to source-of-fund concerns but was able to continue to play with the rest and open three more.

The Commission found that 888 was happy to accept verbal assurances from customers regarding income and relied upon open-source information to validate sources of funds. It cited an example of a player spending £65,835 in five months without a source-of-funds check being carried out.

888 is now required to carry out a third-party audit within 12 months of the review to ensure that it has implemented proper anti-money laundering and social responsibility measures. The latest fine comes after 888 was ordered to pay £7.8 million in 2017 for failing vulnerable customers.

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