888 fined £9.4m for network AML and Customer Care failures. 

The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has ordered 888 Holdings to pay a penalty package of £9.4 million in relation to social responsibility and money laundering failures found across its network of brands. 

This morning the Commission notified that licensee 888 UK Limited had been issued an official warning and will be required to undertake extensive independent audits.

An investigation found that 888 had breached multiple requirements in relation to upkeeping AML Prevention Measures and its duty of the Social Responsibility Code of Practice (SRCP).

Providing a summary of money laundering offences, the UKGC cited that 888 had “implemented a policy where customers were allowed to deposit £40,000 before carrying out source-of-fund (SoF) checks”.

Further breaches saw 888 establish no effective policy on SOF documentation, in which compliance teams are reported to have accepted verbal assurances from customers as to their income.

The Commission highlighted systemic failures across 888’s network that allowed players to deposit and gamble during a 10-day period when they were required to provide SoF documentation.  

Of significance, the Commission disclosed that one customer was allowed £65,835 in just five months without SOF checks being carried out

It was determined that 888 could “not effectively identify players at risk of harm because their policies determined financial checks should be carried out after a customer had deposited £40,000”.

Failed policies saw one customer lose £37,000 within a six week period during COVID-19 pandemic, in which 888 was deemed to have provided no customer care intervention.

The investigation cited that most customer care interactions were below required standards consisting of “email just detailing the responsible gambling tools and did not require a customer response”.

Of concern, the investigation detailed that during the assessment there was no evidence that 888 proactively placed restrictions on accounts where social responsibility concerns were raised.

The penalty package marks the second time 888 has faced an enforcement action by the UKGC who in 2017 ordered the FTSE250 operator to pay £7.8 million due to its failure to protect vulnerable customers.

2021 saw the Commission outline a tougher stance on penalties and more stringent monitoring of the licences reoffending operators.  

Andrew Rhodes, Gambling Commission Chief Executive, said  “The circumstances of the last enforcement action may be different but both cases involve failing consumers – and this is something that is not acceptable.

“Today’s fine is one of our largest to date, and all should be clear that if there is a repeat of the failures at 888 then we have to seriously consider the suitability of the operator to uphold the licensing objectives and keep gambling safe and crime-free.

“Consumers in Britain deserve to know that when they gamble, they are participating in a leisure activity where operators play their part in keeping them.”

 

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