UK operator receives large fine
UK betting company Ladbrokes Coral has been hit with a fine totaling almost £6m ($7.31m) after admitting to failing to protect problem gamblers. The fine is one of the heftiest financial punishments given out by the UK Gambling Commission. Ladbrokes is one of largest gambling operators in the UK.
Ladbrokes Coral, which is owned by GVC, is based on the Isle of Man and the has two recognizable identities. The regulator maintained that both Ladbrokes and Coral failed to fulfill their social responsibility obligations, including the prevention of money laundering.
Commission found examples of negligence
The findings go back to between 2014 and 2017. In its report, the Commission included many examples, such as:
- The company’s failure to ask a customer about their source of funds despite losing £1.5m over a three-year period.
- Coral failing to carry out any social responsibility interactions when a customer lost £64,000 ($78,000) in a month and was noticed logging into their account 10 times per day.
- Ladbrokes’ refusal to contact a customer who had 460 attempted deposits declined and who previously asked the bookie to stop sending them promotions. The customer lost £98,000 ($120,000) over two years.
- Continuing to allow large deposits without questions, such as in the case of a customer who deposited more than £140,000 ($170,000) in the first four months of their account being open.
- Allowing customers whom the company admitted had “serious concerns” to place large wagers.
It appears that these findings came to light after GVC bought Ladbrokes Coral for £3.2bn ($3.9bn) in March 2018 and began looking into historical findings.
Strict terms on penalties
The Executive Director of the Gambling Commission, Richard Watson, said the “systemic failings” of Ladbrokes Coral
resulted in consumers being harmed and stolen money flowing through the business, and this is unacceptable.”
The penalty of £5.9m ($7.18m) has been issued with strict terms attached. Out of the settlement, GVC will pay £4.8m ($5.84) towards responsible gambling causes. The remaining £1.1m ($1.34m) will go to known individuals who have been victims of crime and had stolen money used to bet.
There are currently seven customers who have been identified as such, but another five cases are still being investigated.
Further fines may come to light
The company has also pledged to take a closer look at around 50 customers from between 2015 to 2017 to consider any additional failings which might have taken place. The Commission hasn’t ruled out further fines if more discrepancies are found.
Kenny Alexander, Chief Executive at GVC, said it had been made clear shortly after the 2018 takeover that historical compliance failures had taken place. He said that, on finding these to be unacceptable, “I have overseen a systematic review of the enlarged group’s player protection procedures, and the individuals responsible for these problems have exited the business.”
However, Labour MP Carolyn Harris, who leads a cross-party group on problem gambling, described the fine as “loose change”. In a statement, she expressed doubt that the group would learn any lessons despite the ruling.