UKGC Slaps 888 with £9.4m Fine for Failing to Conduct Affordability Checks
- 888 gets slapped with fine of over £9 million from UKGC
- 888 has failed its players yet again
- 888 accepts fine and commits to change
The United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC) has levied a hefty fine of £9.4 million on British online casino provider 888. The fine is the third-highest penalty incurred by any entity in the history of gambling regulation in the UK.
The UKGC highlighted that 888 did not conduct the requisite affordability checks to identify customers at risk of gambling harm until they deposited £40,000.
Non-Compliance To Threaten 888’s UK License
The UKGC cautioned that the several transgressions could prove troublesome for 888’s viability to hold a license in the country. The fine has come just before the British government is slated to publish its gambling reform proposal. The reforms might include affordability checks to ensure that people are betting within safe and affordable limits. Previously, 888 had incurred a penalty of £7.8 million in 2017.
Andrew Rhodes, the chief executive of the UKGC opined that while the circumstances in 2017 had been different from the current incident, both the cases involved failing customers. Rhodes cautioned that an encore of such failures by 888 might cause the commission to decide against its suitability to hold a license. He added that gambling operators were responsible for ensuring consumers’ safety and welfare by conducting source of funds (SOF) checks to ascertain that the money is crime-free.
The company did not perform checks on several customers, including one who had lost £37,000 in a matter of weeks in 2020. Another case involved 888 placing a £1,300 monthly deposit cap on an NHS worker’s account whose monthly income was £1,400. A customer spent £65,835 in just five months due to no SOF checks. The cases came at a time when the UKGC had warned providers against attracting customers who were vulnerable due to the pandemic.
An audit in October 2020 had discovered 888’s lack of customer interaction about responsible gambling tools. The social responsibility interaction comprised a single email that described the available tools. The company also failed to carry out SOF checks to prevent incidents of money laundering and accepted mere verbal assurances from customers on their income.
888 CEO Pazner Owns Up To Non-Compliance Failure
Itai Pazner, CEO of 888, tendered an apology in light of the UKGC’s investigation into its former policies. Pazner said that the company acknowledged its duty to engender safer gambling practices over the years and regretted its failure to comply with the required standards in the UK. He added that the company had invested in safe gambling practices which include doubling the size of its compliance team since 2019.
Pazner confirmed that 888 is working with the UKGC and other stakeholders to improve its policies.