UK Gambling Commission Fines 888 For Lapses In Responsible Gaming
The UK Gambling Commission has fined online gaming operator 888Holdings, a record penalty of £7.8 million for failing to protect vulnerable gamblers. The Commission found serious flaws in 888’s social responsibility processes which allowed vulnerable players continued access despite having self-excluded themselves.
A technical failure in the operator’s systems enabled over 7,000 customers who had opted to self exclude themselves from the casino, poker, sport betting platform to still access their gaming accounts. Due to the loophole remaining undetected for a long time, customers were able to deposit £3.5million into their accounts and were able to gamble for over 13 months.
The Commission also found 888 of being negligent in recognizing visible signs of problem gambling in their customers. Sarah Harrison, chief executive at the Gambling Commission said that safeguarding consumers was not optional for gaming firms.
In a statement, Sarah Harrison said
This penalty package of just under £8million reflects the seriousness of 888’s failings to protect vulnerable customers. The 888 sanction package will ensure those affected don’t lose out, that the operator pays the price for its failings via a sum that will go to tackling gambling-related harm, and that independent assurance will be given to see that lessons are learnt
The commission also pointed out to a case where a customer bet nearly £1.3 million, which included £55,000 embezzled from their employer. The customer placed large amounts of bets on the site over a period of 13 months playing on the site for nearly 3-4 hours a day. The UK regulatory body said that 888’s failure to interact with the customer given the frequency, duration and sums of money being gambled was a serious lapse.
Harrison noted that nearly two million people in the UK were either problem gamblers or were at the risk of becoming one and that more work needed to be done to identify people upfront. The £7.8 million penalty includes the amount of £3.5 million which will be sent to the affected self excluded players towards repayment of their deposits. It also includes a sum of £62,000 paid as compensation to the employer firm from whom the funds were stolen.
An additional £4.25 million will be paid by 888 towards a socially responsible organization to develop measures addressing gambling related issues. A full review of 888’s processes dealing with customer protection will also be carried out by independent auditors.