Betway Hit With Record £11.6m Fine for VIP Customer Failings

  • The financial penalty is the biggest one ever to be handed out by the UKGC
  • Failings relate to money laundering and social responsibility systems
  • Seven specific cases involving VIP customers were highlighted
  • The UKGC found that £5.8m in crime money was gambled through Betway
man hits gavel against blocks spelling out penalty
The UKGC has fined Betway £11.6m for systematic failings mainly relating to the operator’s VIP customers. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

The UKGC takes action

The United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC) has hit online gambling operator Betway with a record £11.6m ($14.8m) fine due to failings related to some of its highest-spending customers. This is the biggest financial penalty that the authority has ever handed out. 

The company’s failings specifically relate to money laundering and social responsibility systems. Specific cases that were highlighted concerned seven high-rolling account holders. 

the biggest financial penalty that the authority has ever handed out

Betway will also have to implement a number of new measures as part of the disciplinary action received.

Specific cases highlighting failings

One of the cases that were highlighted saw no fund checks conducted by Betway for one of its VIP customers. The user had deposited more than £8m ($10.2m) to their account over the course of four years, losing £4m ($5.1m) during this period. 

In another instance, Betway did not follow social responsibility protocols. It failed to contact a customer who had added £187,000 ($239,000) to their account and lost the funds within two days. 

In his comments on the Betway fine, UKGC’s executive director, Richard Watson, said,

The actions of Betway suggest there was little regard for the welfare of its VIP customers or the impact on those around them.”

According to Watson, these failings indicate that the relationship gambling operators have with VIP customers must change. He emphasized that the industry must do everything in its power to interact with its customers in a responsible manner. 

Criminal money going through Betway

The case highlights that £5.8m ($7.4m) in player money went through Betway that was shown, or could reasonably be shown, to be the direct proceeds of criminal activity.

These specific funds will be divested and then given back to the victims. 

In its statement on the matter, the UKGC also pointed out that there was no proper management oversight in place at Betway. The commission is continuing its investigation into the responsible Personal Management License holders.

Key challenges facing the sector

The UKGC is constantly working to make the gambling space safer. Tight deadlines are in place for progress to happen in the industry. If targets are not met, the commission will be taking more action, handing out similar fines to other operators. 

In October 2019, UKGC chief executive Neil McArthur outlined a set of challenges that industry operators need to urgently address to enhance gambling safety in the region. One of the key challenges regarded incentivizing VIP customers. 

Previous Betway failings

Betway has been involved in a number of different controversies over the past couple of years. In January 2019, it was investigated in relation to an investment of €28m ($31.56m) by the Belgian authorities. The inquiry took place following the publication of the Panama Papers.

In January 2020, the Advertising Standards Agency banned a Betway advertisement featuring West Ham United and England soccer player Declan Rice. The ban came as a result of the ad prominently featuring someone who is younger than 25 years old. 

Along with other major gambling operators in the region, Betway was called into the House of Lords to discuss “predatory” VIP customer schemes.