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UKGC hits 888 with a £9.4m fine for AML and social responsibility failures

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The parent company of 888.com, 888 UK Limited has been fined £9.4m by the Gambling Commission in Great Britain for failure to fully implement customer safeguards and a lack of vigilance in guarding against the possibility of money laundering. Nearly five years ago they were fined heavily as well for failing to protect vulnerable customers.

The company paid a £7.8m penalty in 2017.

The Commission’s compliance assessment was concluded in October 2020 and 888 Holdings PLC took immediate actions to remedy any shortcomings. These actions included the following:

Implementing additional customer source of funds checks and loss limits.
Reducing the thresholds in Observer, 888’s in-house developed customer behavior monitoring technology, that trigger alerts and customer interactions.
Investing in its safer gambling and compliance team, including additional training for relevant employees.
Strengthening and developing 888’s assessment of the anti-money laundering risks facing the business.

Differing Circumstances but Similar Failures

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

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.

One of the social responsibility violations involved a player who lost £37,000 in 6 weeks during the Covid-19 shutdowns and another who did not experience an intervention or financial checks as the policy was to carry out that sort of investigation or intervention only after deposits of £40,000.

The firm also allowed customers who they should have known were not high-earners due to their careers, unreasonably high monthly deposit caps.

One customer had multiple accounts closed or restricted due to source of funds concerns and was allowed to open new accounts at three of the company’s other 75 or so skins and return to gambling on those accounts.

888 Accepts the Commission’s Statement

On Tuesday, 888 issued a response saying that it accepts the statement published by the Gambling Commission about “former safer gambling and anti-money laundering policies and procedures in the UK.”

Itai Pazner, CEO of the Group, commented: “We recognize our responsibility to make gambling safer and regret that previous implementation of our processes failed to meet required standards in the UK. We accept the findings of the UKGC’s investigation of some of 888’s former policies and procedures and have taken immediate appropriate action to improve and address the failings”.

He also noted that they have more than doubled the size of the company’s compliance team since 2019 and that the group would continue to invest in technology for safer gambling. He concluded, “…giving customers transparency about their activity and using sophisticated AI to detect and block harmful play. We know that our work in this area must be ongoing and we remain committed to continuing investment in meeting our safer gambling objectives.”

Source:

”888 fined £9.4m for social responsibility failings”, G3 Newswire, March 1, 2022