UK Gambling Commission Launches Investigation Into 888Holdings

The UK Gambling Commission is investigating one of the subsidiaries of the online casino company 888 Holdings in regards to its social responsibility processes.

According to a recent news report, the investigation will review if the company is implementing appropriate procedures for players to manage their gambling habits.

Self-exclusion and the time-out features are among the range of measures included in social responsibility.

With self-exclusion, players can ban themselves from the site for a period of time, typically for six months while the time-out feature allows the players bar themselves from playing for a specified amount of time.

Responding to the announcement, 888 Holdings said that it will work with the Gambling Commission on the matter and reassess the self-exclusion tools currently deployed by it across different gaming platforms. The company’s UK focused business offers poker, sports betting, casino and bingo which make up around 45 percent of the Gibraltar-headquartered group’s total revenue.

The news of regulatory investigation resulted in the company’s shares dropping by nearly 8 percent. Analyst Simon Davies of brokerage Canaccord Genuity said that the risk of 888 having to pay a fine was highly possible but wasn’t a concern since 888 was a highly profitable company

Analysts from Peel Hunt agreed, stating that the fine would be reasonable given past cases.

In a statement, analysts at Peel Hunt said

It appears this public process is now the Commission’s preferred way of regulating the gambling industry and fines and bad publicity are part of the cost of doing business.

The announcement of the investigation comes 18 months after the regulator issued a rule change, requiring all online gaming companies to have a self-exclusion feature. The gambling commission has increased its focus on enforcing regulations related to responsible gambling, taking numerous actions recently to emphasize this.

The regulator issued its first-ever fine for advertising failings earlier this month fining Guernsey-based company BGO Entertainment a sum of £300,000 for nine deceptive ads shown on its site and affiliates’ site between July 2015 and July 2016. The commission's Licence Conditions and Codes of Practice rulebook updated in May 2016 requires companies to have clear advertising regarding promotional offers.

In other such cases, in February 2016, Paddy Power was asked to enhance its processes related to money laundering prevention as well as social responsibility processes and also to make a donation of £280,000 to social causes. BetFred was fined £800,000 for similar issues and underwent a license review.