Lax in social responsibility measures
The United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC) has fined 888 UK Limited £9.4 million for social responsibility and anti-money laundering failings. The company operates 78 online gambling sites, including 888.com and 888poker.
“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,” said UKGC chief executive Andrew Rhodes in Tuesday’s announcement. “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.”
Social responsibility measures consist of protections and practices to make sure customers are safe, particularly from problem gambling. The UKGC listed seven different failures in this area, including “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.”
The rest of the issues were similar, with 888 not properly checking on customers who had lost large sums of money or giving customers inappropriate deposit limits. For example, one customer that 888 knew was only making £1,400 per month was given a monthly deposit limit of £1,300.
Another customer lost £37,000 in a six-week period during the pandemic (which we were still in, of course, but we might assume this was during a “lockdown” period when people largely stayed at home), but 888 never checked in and conducted proper customer interactions.
One customer had one of his 11 accounts restricted because 888 had “source of funds” concerns about it, but he was still permitted to open three more accounts and keep gambling.
Anti-money laundering violations
The Commission provided five examples of 888’s anti-money laundering violations, all relating to inadequate source of funds checks in one way or another. For instance, 888 didn’t do any source of funds checks on a customer until they spent £65,835 in five months.
888 also has a policy in which customers must provide source of funds documentation within ten days or they have their account restricted (I honestly don’t know if this is for every customer or just those playing certain limits). In one instance, 888 didn’t request said documentation from a customer until three weeks after the ten-day mark and in that time, the customer lost £15,000.
As the UKGC mentions, it previously fined 888 £7.8 million in 2017 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 Rhodes.