United Kingdom

888 fined $12,6M for social responsibility, money laundering failures

Reading time 1:55 min

Online betting and gaming company 888 has been fined £9.4m by the UK Gambling Commission for social responsibility and money laundering failures.

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.

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

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
  • not carrying out a customer interaction with a customer who lost £37,000 in a six week period during the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • not taking into account the Commission’s formal guidance on customer interaction
  • giving a customer they knew was an NHS worker earning £1,400 a month a monthly deposit cap of £1,300.
  • most of 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.
  • 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.
  • accepting verbal assurances from customers as to employment income and being reliant on open-source information to validate SOF.
  • not setting out which documents should be requested as part of SOF checks.
  • allowing one customer to spend £65,835 in just 5 months without SOF checks being carried out.
  • 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.

Read 888 UK Limited’s full penalty.

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