UKGC Hits 888 With Massive $16.56 Million Fine

The UKGC hit 888 with a £9.4 million ($16.56 million) fine for failing customers during the pandemic. The third-largest fine ever issued.

The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) slapped a massive £9.4 million ($16.56 million) fine on 888 Holdings after customers lost thousands during the pandemic. The UKGC ruled 888 failed its customers on multiple occasions. This fine is the third-largest in the history of British gambling. UKGC previously fined Betway £11.6 million ($20.44 million) and Caesars Casinos £13 million ($22.91 million).

888’s operating licence is under threat following the latest UKGC fine. It is not the first time the UKGC has levied a fine on the casino and poker company. UGKC fined 888 £7.8 million ($13.74 million) in 2017, which was a record at the time.

Why Did UKGC Hit 888 With a $16.56 Million Fine?

The regulator lambasted the lack of responsible gambling procedures within 888. For example, the casino operator only carried out financial checks on one customer after they deposited £40,000 ($70,500).

The number of people gambling increased during the government-enforced lockdowns. UKGC asked companies to exercise caution during the pandemic to protect vulnerable customers. However, 888 performed no checks on one customer who lost £37,000 ($65,200) in six weeks.

Another customer had a £1,300 ($2,291) deposit cap placed on their account despite knowing they earned £1,400 ($2,467) per month.

“The circumstances of the last enforcement action may be different but in both cases involve failing consumers, and this is something that is not acceptable,” the UKGC said, “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 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 chcks to ensure money is crime-free.”

888 CEO Responds to the Stock Market

Itai Pazner is the 888 CEO. He issued a statement to investors via the London Stock Exchange.

“We recognise our responsibility to making 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. Over recent years, we have made significant investments in safer gambling including more than doubling the size of our compliance team since 2019. We will continue to work closely with the UKGC, our peers and other stakeholders to drive continuous improvement in the industry.”

Similar Failings Closer to Home

The huge 888 fine is punishment for numerous failings the British company made, but Aussie firms are guilty of similar offences.

Crown Resorts has casinos in Melbourne, Perth, and Sydney. Australian regulators deem Crown unsuitable to hold a casino licence at all three locations. Crown was guilty of failing to protect problem gamblers in addition to flouting anti-money laundering procedures. Regulators here slapped a $1 million fine on the casino giant, the maximum permitted at the time. However, lawmakers changed the rules so any fine amount is related to turnover.

Crown is currently on the hook for a potential $1.2 billion fine. AUSTRAC launched legal proceedings against Crown this week. The regulator files 547 contraventions, each carrying a potential $22.2 million fine.

Star Entertainment, who are Crown’s biggest rivals, also fell foul of responsible gambling laws. Star is under the microscope right now after newspaper reports it allowed known criminals wager hundreds of millions of dollars at its casinos. In addition, Star underpaid millions to its staff and asked local high rollers to lie about their residence.