Home Gambling Industry 888 Holdings hit with record 8-digit fine by the UK Gambling Commission

888 Holdings hit with record 8-digit fine by the UK Gambling Commission

02 Mar 2022
3 min. read

Itai Pazner
Online casino operator 888 Holdings will be fined £9.4 million ($12.48 million), the third-highest in British gambling regulation history. The fine is the result of "multiple failures" that caused customers to rack up large losses during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a report by The Guardian.

The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) highlighted several transgressions it said could make it question 888's ability to retain a license to operate in Great Britain.

This fine is just weeks away from the publication of proposals by the government to reform gambling regulations. These could include affordability checks to ensure that people can afford the amount they are betting.

The regulator claimed that 888 did not correctly identify customers at risk because it didn't conduct financial checks on them until they had made £40,000 ($53,112).

One case involved a company that did not check on a customer after they lost £37,000 ($59,128) in six weeks in 2020. This was at a time when the UKGC had requested companies be cautious about luring people into their activity over COVID-19 concerns.

Another case involved 888 placing a monthly deposit cap of £1,300 ($1,726) on the account of an NHS worker who it knew earned £1,800 ($2,390) per month.

A company audit that was completed in October 2020 revealed that the majority of social responsibility interactions with customers involved a single email explaining the available responsible gambling tools. It did not involve any customer interaction.

Andrew Rhodes, CEO of the UKGC, said that this was 888's second major fine after it was hit in 2017 with a £7.8-million ($10.26 million) penalty. That fine was a record at the time.

Rhodes stated that although the circumstances of the previous enforcement action might be different, both cases involve consumers who are failing to pay their dues.

The chief executive added, "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."

The online casino company that is buying William Hill's UK assets has also failed to properly check their "source of funds" to prevent money laundering. Customers were allowed to give verbal assurances about their income. However, this did not include determining which documents should be requested for funds checks. One customer was allowed to spend £65,835 ($87,474) within five months without a check.

888 CEO Itau Pazner issued a response to the fine, admitting the company may have unintentionally failed. He stated, "We recognise 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."

02 Mar 2022
3 min. read