888 has been issued a penalty of £7.8m (€8.5m/$10.1m) by the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) as a result of “failings” in its handling of vulnerable customers.
In a statement published today (Thursday) on the UKGC website, the national regulatory body said the fine represents a record financial penalty and follows the discovery of “significant flaws” in 888’s social responsibility processes.
The UKGC, which announced in May that it was to review 888’s UK licence, found that a technical failure in the operator’s systems meant over 7,000 customers who had chosen to self-exclude from the casino/poker/sport platform were still able to access their accounts via the 888Bingo platform.
The customers in question deposited £3.5m into their accounts during the period that the issue was undetected and were able to gamble for the entire time.
The UKGC also concluded that 888 failed to recognise visible signs of problem gambling behaviour displayed by an individual customer, which in turn led to criminal activity.
The customer staked more than £1.3m through 888, including £55,000 stolen from their employer, over a 13-month period, with an average of three or four large bets placed each day.
The UKGC criticised 888 for its lack of interaction with the customer, given the frequency, duration and sums of money involved in the bets.
Sarah Harrison, chief executive of the UKGC, said: “Safeguarding consumers is not optional; this penalty package reflects the seriousness of 888’s failings to protect vulnerable customers.
“The 888 sanction package will ensure those affected don’t lose out, that the operator pays the price for its failings via a sum that will go to tackling gambling-related harm, and that independent assurance will be given to see that lessons are learnt.”
The fine includes a repayment of £3.5m of deposits made by the self-excluded customers and compensation of £62,000 to the employer from whom money was stolen.
In addition, £4.25m from the fine will be paid to a socially responsible cause to invest in measures to tackle gambling-related harm, while the UKGC has ordered an independent audit of 888’s processes relating to customer protection.
888 said in a statement that it worked “cooperatively” with the UKGC throughout the review, adding: “The company accepts the conclusion of the review and is committed to providing players with a responsible as well as enjoyable gaming experience.”
Advances in responsible gambling technology will be a primary focus of discussion at Clarion Gaming's 'World Regulatory Briefing: Responsible Gambling Innovation' being held later this month at the OXO2 Tower in London. With igaming’s adoption of CSR and transparency making RG the responsibility of multiple departments within igaming operators, this year's edition on 12 September will explore market developments in this area with more conceptual and technical discussion around how the gambling industry and its stakeholders can live in harmony with responsible gambling. You can find out more details and register here.
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