The United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC) has fined one of the world’s largest online gaming companies, 888 Holdings, for £7,8 million.

The Gambling Commission said there were “significant flaws” in the firm’s social responsibility processes. The statement further went on to add:

  • Due to a technical failure in 888’s systems, over 7,000 customers who had chosen to self-exclude(1) from their casino/poker/sport platform were still able to access their accounts on their bingo platform. The issue went undetected for a prolonged period of time, meaning customers were able to deposit £3.5million into their accounts, and then continue to gamble, for over 13 months. While 888 did have self-exclusion procedures in place, they were not robust enough and failed to protect potentially vulnerable customers.
  • 888 also failed to recognise visible signs of problem gambling behaviour displayed by an individual customer, which was so significant that it resulted in criminal activity. The customer staked over £1.3million, including £55k stolen from their employer. During a 13 month period the customer placed a large number of bets, gambling on average 3-4 hours a day. The lack of interaction with the customer, given the frequency, duration and sums of money involved in the gambling, raised serious concerns about 888’s safeguarding of customers at-risk of gambling harm.

The penalty on 888 Holdings is the harshest ever on a gambling firm in the UK. Sarah Harrison, chief executive at the Gambling Commission, said the penalty would ensure that “lessons are learnt“.

Our requirements are that every company must provide the facility for every customer to be able to bar themselves from gambling. These 7,000 looked to do that. But 888 didn’t deliver it as effectively as they should have done,” Ms Harrison told the BBC.

A significant portion of the penalty package will be used to repay £3.5m in deposits made by the customers who had self-excluded themselves when they wanted to stop gambling. A compensation of £62k to the employer from whom money was stolen will also be paid out. Surprisingly though, £4,25 million will be paid to a socially responsible cause to invest in measures to tackle gambling-related harm.

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