A British casino operator has been fined £500,000 after it allowed a client to lose £1m over a 24-hour period.
In an investigation conducted by the Gambling Commission, the Rank Group was found to have not interacted adequately with the customer in question.
The investigation noted that the customer’s problematic behavior was clear for all to see. Rank Group was also found to have made contact with him in the middle of his self-exclusion period, and it had failed to comply with the rules regarding the provision of credit for players.
This player had wagered “substantial amounts” at a land-based casino owned by the Rank Group, part of the Grosvenor Casino brand. They had also placed bets online through one of Grosvenor’s casino platforms. During this 24-hour period of betting, he lost more than £1m.
The executive director of the Gaming Commission, Richard Watson, stated: “We expect all operators to protect any consumer who may be experiencing problems with their gambling, and operators shouldn’t fall into the trap of thinking that VIP customers don’t experience difficulties.
“No matter how wealthy customers are, operators still need to monitor them effectively to ensure they aren’t showing signs of problem gambling. It is certainly not appropriate to visit customers during a period when they are self-excluded.
“This penalty package would have been a lot higher were it not for the positive action Rank took in terms of self-reporting their failures and being open and transparent during our investigation.”
Similar problem at 888
Gambling addiction is a serious problem in the UK, with an estimated 2 million individuals currently at risk of developing some form of addiction to gambling.
Self-exclusion is the current go-to for problem gamblers to have themselves barred from being able to access these platforms. It has been found to be a good way to help people quit gambling and not to be tempted.
In August 2018, the well-known gambling group 888 received a fine of almost £8m after it failed to adequately protect its vulnerable customers.
Following an investigation by the Gambling Commission, “significant flaws” were discovered in the efforts 888 made to stop their customers from being harmed.
The group, which offers the likes of 888Sport, 888Casino and 888Poker, received a record fine of £7.8m as a result of its extensive failings. 888’s various platforms had continued to allow more than 7,000 people who had already banned themselves voluntarily from partaking in gambling to still have access to their accounts.
One of 888’s customers was able to place over 850,000 bets, amounting to £1.3m in a 12-month period, using money stolen from their boss. This led to widespread calls from the Labour Party and the main gambling charities in the UK to deal with the matter.
The 888 system was compromised because of technical failures. Gamblers who were signed up for the self-exclusion program on the platform managed to deposit more than £3.5m to accounts. Over time, more than £51m ($67m) was wagered through both deposits and winnings over time.
888 is listed on the London Stock Exchange and based in Gibraltar. It failed significantly to spot clear-cut signs that problem gambling was an ongoing issue with its platforms, particularly when it came to the person using embezzled funds.
This customer staked £1.3m ($1.7m) in a year, of which £55,000 had been stolen. They placed bets for up to four hours each day, averaging more than 2,000 bets daily. Eventually, they received a prison sentence for 16 months on charges of false accounting and theft.
GambleAware’s chief executive Marc Etches said: “Clearly this company did not do enough to protect vulnerable customers. The industry is working at improving protection of vulnerable customers and finding ways to intervene. But much more needs to be done and it needs to be done more quickly.”
Strong action is needed against companies that do not toe the line in this regard. There is a strong responsibility placed upon them to protect players.
As part of the record £7.8m ($5.9m) fine, 888 must repay the £3.5m ($4.6m) in deposits that had been made by those who were supposed to be part of the self-exclusion scheme, as well as provide compensation of £62,000 ($82,000) to the company that had funds stolen from them.
888 must further contribute £4.25m ($5.6m) to a certain social responsibility cause to help with battling harm related to problem gambling. An independent audit has been ordered into the processes used by 888 to protect consumers. 888’s management has said it has since fixed the self-exclusion issues and that none of this had been done intentionally.
In February 2018, Paddy Power was in hot water and received a £280,000 ($370,000) fine. The operator was found to have aided the problems of a customer who continually bet with them and ended up losing a total of five jobs, the ability to see his children and his house.
Gala Coral (now merged with Ladbrokes) made a settlement in April worth $880,000 ($1.2m) after it catered for a VIP problem gambler who had wagered six-figure bets using money that was proceeds of theft.
In June 2017, Betfred was fined £800,000 ($1m) for also allowing stolen cash to be used by a VIP customer.