Paddy Power Betfair (PPB) has been fined £2.2m in the UK for social responsibility and money laundering failures.
The penalty was imposed by the UK Gambling Commission, which found PPB was failing to protect customers and stop stolen money being gambled. It is the fourth penalty package of more than £1m imposed by the Gambling Commission this year, following rulings against William Hill (£6.2m), 32Red (£2m) and Sky Bet (£1m).
A Commission investigation revealed that PPB failed to adequately interact with customers who were displaying signs of problem gambling and failed to adequately carry out anti-money laundering checks. Two of the customers were using PPB’s betting exchange and a further three were gambling using the operator’s online presence and retail premises.
Accepting the penalty, PPB said it has made “significant improvement[s]” to its checks since the time of the cases in 2016.
In a statement PPB admited there were “weaknesses in its responsible gambling and AML policies and procedures”, conceding there were breaches of its UK licence condition.
Richard Watson, Gambling Commission executive director, said: “As a result of Paddy Power Betfair’s failings significant amounts of stolen money flowed through their exchange and this is simply not acceptable. Operators have a duty to all of their customers to seek to prevent the proceeds of crime from being used in gambling.
“These failings all stem from one simple principle – operators must know their customer. If they know their customer and ask the right questions then they place themselves in a strong position to meet their anti-money laundering and social responsibility obligations.”
As part of the settlement, PPB will return £500,000 to the impacted parties and will make a £1.7m payment to GambleAware, the independent charity which commissions research, education and treatment services to reduce gambling related harm.
Peter Jackson, CEO of Paddy Power Betfair, said: “We have a responsibility to intervene when our customers show signs of problem gambling. In these five cases our interventions were not effective and we are very sorry that this occurred.
“In recent years, we have invested in an extensive programme of work to strengthen our resources and systems in responsible gambling and customer protection. We are encouraged that the Gambling Commission has recognised significant improvement since the time of these cases in 2016.
“This work is continuous and we are committed to working in partnership with other operators, and with the Commission, to become better and better at protecting customers.”
Meanwhile, in a separate Gambling Commission ruling, bookmaker Mark Jarvis is to pay £94,000 and overhaul its social responsibility procedures after failing to protect a widow whose gambling habit became out of control in the months following the death of her husband.
Over a 19-month period the operator, which has around 75 shops throughout the Midlands and South Yorkshire, failed to follow customer interaction rules when the customer – known to Mark Jarvis shop employees – showed problem gambling traits, including spending £34,000 on FOBTs. Of this £11,250 was stolen from the customer’s employer.
Explaining the decision, the Gambling Commission's Watson said: “This case is a clear example of why gambling operators must have and implement effective social responsibility policies and procedures. All operators, regardless of size, need to ensure they really know their customers.”
Image: Jim Makos