A significant penalty
The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has handed out its biggest ever financial penalty – a fine of £17m ($20.6m) to Entain Group. The region’s chief gambling regulator announced the penalty on Wednesday, with the offenses relating to anti-money laundering and social responsibility processes at the company’s land-based and online operations.
£14m ($17m) is attributable to Entain’s online operations
Breaking down the fine, £14m ($17m) is attributable to Entain’s online operations. Entain-owned LC International Limited operates 13 online platforms, including Ladbrokes.com, FoxyBingo.com, and Coral.co.uk. The other £3m ($3.6m) relates to failures within the land-based Ladbrokes, which has 2,746 gambling facilities around Britain. The UKGC will use the total £17m ($20.6m) fine for socially responsible purposes.
In addition to the financial penalty, new license conditions mean an Entain board member has to oversee an improvement plan. Within a year, a third party will conduct an audit to review the gambling group’s License Conditions and Codes of Practice compliance.
The specific failures
The UKGC’s press release details Entain’s failures. In terms of the social responsibility issues, the operator was poor at interacting with certain at-risk gamblers and allowed users with restrictions and open inquiries on one site to start accounts with other Entain brands. The UKGC also found failures to escalate safe gambling customer reviews in certain instances, both online and in-store.
The UKGC also found anti-money laundering issues, including failure to properly address the risk of Entain online brands serving as vehicles for terrorist financing and money laundering. Entain also failed to complete sufficient sources of funds and customer due diligence checks for big spenders, while also insufficiently monitoring certain customers. In one case, a betting store customer bet a total of £168,000 ($203,301) over eight months at in-store terminals before Ladbrokes conducted any sort of due diligence checks.
Taking a hard stance
Commenting on the record-breaking fine, UKGC chief executive Andrew Rhodes described the failures as “completely unacceptable,” asserting that operators should never put their commercial interests over compliance. Rhodes noted that this is Entain’s second time breaking rules that aim to make the gambling sector crime-free and safer for gamblers.
We expect better and consumers deserve better”
Going forward, Rhodes explained that the removal of Entain’s license is “a very real possibility” if the UKGC discovers any further serious breaches. “We expect better and consumers deserve better,” the regulatory exec concluded.
The UKGC has already handed out numerous significant financial penalties to operators so far in 2022. 888 UK received a £9.4m ($11.4m) fine in March for similar issues, while the current UK National Lottery operator Camelot was fined £3.15m ($3.8m) for targeting more than 65,000 self-excluded gamblers.