Following an investigation by the Gambling Commission, as part of a regulatory settlement three gambling firms owned by William Hill Group must pay a record penalty of £19.2m for failing to protect consumers and for anti-money laundering failures. The penalties collected from this investigation will be directed by the Gambling Commission towards socially responsible purposes.
Under their licence conditions, gambling firms must carry out checks to identify and contact customers who might be at risk of harm from gambling. Firms must also checks that funds being used by customers are from a legitimate source, and not one that is associated with criminal activity. During the period of investigation, the findings uncovered by the Gambling Commission revealed that William Hill Group had significant failings in respect of both of these requirements.
In order to safeguard against the imposition of substantial penalties, firms must comply with all regulatory obligations.
To comply with social responsibility requirements, organisations must have sufficient controls in place to protect customers and to identify customers at risk of harm from gambling, with appropriate controls which inform customers of the risk of substantial losses from gambling.
To comply with anti-money laundering requirements, organisations must have proper checks in place in order to monitor and verify the source of funds used by customers. Staff must also be provided with appropriate training on anti-money laundering risks and how to manage them.
Firms in the industry appear to be doing more to make gambling safer and reducing funds from criminal activity being used; but there is clearly more to be done. In the meantime, this enforcement action against William Hill Group reinforces the Gambling Commission’s harsh stance towards organisations that breach licensing requirements around social responsibility and anti-money laundering. Since the beginning of 2022, the Gambling Commission has completed 26 enforcement cases, finding widespread regulatory failures, and leading to operators paying over £76m due to the findings.
William Hill has been fined a record £19m for “widespread and alarming” social responsibility and anti-money-laundering failures that were revealed just days before long-awaited reforms of Britain’s gambling laws are finalised. The 88-year-old bookmaking brand, owned by 888 Group, admitted a string of transgressions, including allowing customers to lose tens of thousands of pounds within minutes of opening an account.