UK Gambling Commission Fines William Hill £6.2 Million
UK betting group William Hill was fined £6.2 million by the Gambling Commission for failing to spot problem gambling and prevent money laundering.
The UK Gambling Commission claimed William Hill’s fine stemmed from conduct over a 2-year period ending in August 2016 and is the second-largest fine in UK gaming history.
The £6.2 million fine comes on a heals of a 2017 £7.8 million fine levied against 888 Holdings which included many of the same charges. The Gambling Commission accused 888 of failing to protect customers, which are the same charges William Hill faces now.
Tim Miller, the Gambling Commission’s executive director, claimed there were clear warning signs that William Hill’s managers should have spotted.
In an interview with BBC Radio 4’s Today program, Miller said, “In many respects, this wasn’t properly resourced or staffed, so a lot of the checks weren’t happening. People were potentially able to gamble money that was the proceeds of crime; in one case, money stolen from a local council.”
“Clear Warning Signs”
Ten of the customers made deposits linked to criminal offenses, which should not have been possible. Those 10 accounts provided William Hill with £1.2 million in revenues. The fine levied by the UK Gambling Commission included £5 million for the violation regulations, along with the £1.2 million gained through the violations.
Tim Miller said of the oversights, “There were clear warning signs, the escalating amount of money that was being spent should have set off alarm bells.”
UK Gambling Commission Means Business
Neil McArthur, another executive director of the UK Gambling Commission, said the fine reflects the regulator’s determination to clean up the state of gaming in the United Kingdom. McArthur said William Hill had shown a pattern of negligence: “This was a systemic failing at William Hill which went on for nearly two years and today’s penalty package — which could exceed £6.2 million — reflects the seriousness of the breaches.”
“Gambling businesses have a responsibility to ensure that they keep crime out of gambling and tackle problem gambling — and as part of that they must be constantly curious about where the money they are taking is coming from.”
Customer Lost £541k on £30k Salary
One particular case was particularly notable to the Gambling Commission. One customer lost £541,000 over 14 months. That figure might not be alarming, if the player was a high roller or a whale. Internal documents show that William Hill’s employees believed the gambler’s was £365,000, meaning the bettor was a facing financial ruin if William Hill did not stop the activity.
In truth, the gambler was earning £30,000 a year and stealing from his employer to pay for his out-of-control gaming habit. The UK imposes regulations as safeguards to assure such activity happens, not just for the sake of problem gambling, but the pattern of corruption and crime which often stems from desperation.
UK Gambling Commission
The UK Gambling Commission the Sarah Harrison era has been aggressive in fining UK gaming operators who do not like up to the standards. Many of the most famous brands in UK gambling have been fined, while the regulatory fines have been rising over the 2-year period.
With Sarah Harrison leaving the Gambling Commission for a new post in Theresa Mays’ government, one will have to take a wait-and-see approach on whether Harrison’s replacement, James Mackay, has the same zealous approach to regulation.
Philip Bowcock Statement
William Hill said in a statement it has hired anti-money laundering auditors to help it spot suspicious activity in the future. Philip Bowcock, the latest CEO of William Hill, said in a press release, “William Hill has fully co-operated with the commission throughout this process, introducing new and improved policies and increased levels of resourcing. We have also committed to an independent process review and will work to implement any recommendations that emerge from that review.”
“We are fully committed to operating a sustainable business that properly identifies risk and better protects customers. We will continue to assist the commission and work with other operators to improve practices in the areas identified.”