Entain defends post-2020 social responsibility record against UKGC penalty

Having been charged £17m for social responsibility and anti-money laundering shortcomings dating back to 2020, Entain has outlined its efforts in this area and approach moving forward. 

Split between the group’s LC International Limited web business and Ladbrokes Betting & Gaming Ltd retail operation – charged £14m and £3m respectively – the Commission’s penalty has been accompanied by additional licence conditions and an improvement plan.

Responding to UKGC’s largest sanction to date, Entain has stated that it will appoint a Board sponsor to oversee the implementation of ‘any further improvements identified by the original 2020 compliance assessments’ and an independent audit of policies and procedures. 

The FTSE100 gambling group noted that in the years since the failures occurred between December 2019 and October 2020, a range of social responsibility measures have been implemented across its group-wide operations.

Entain’s statement explained: “For instance, in 2021 Entain launched its Advanced Responsibility and Care (ARC) programme which, using revolutionary AI technology, operates in real-time and is individually tailored for each customer. 

“The initial trials of ARC in the UK have shown a risk assessment accuracy of over 80%, a 120% uplift in the use of safer gambling tools by those most at risk, and a 30% overall reduction in customers increasing their risk levels.

“Furthermore, in May of this year Entain was awarded the Advanced Safer Gambling Standard by GamCare, having evidenced the highest standards of player protection and social responsibility for its online and land-based gambling businesses in Great Britain.”

Reiterating the ‘historical’ nature of the offences, Entain stated that it ‘accepts that certain legacy systems and processes’ across its UK operations from 2019 to 2020 were not in line with the UKGC’s ‘evolving regulatory expectations’ on social responsibility and AML.

According to the group, it has entered into the Commission’s regulatory settlement to ‘bring the matter to a close’ and avoid the costs and delays of legal proceedings, whilst highlighting that there was ‘no evidence whatsoever’ of criminal spending within its business. 

The sanction is the largest in a series of regulatory penalties issued by the UKGC for social responsibility and AML breaches, following similar charges against Smarkets (£630k), LeoVegas (£1.32m), 888 (£9.4m) and Sky Bet (£1.17m).

With the Gambling Act review White Paper expected next month after several delays, the UKGC’s actions against Entain – which as the group noted has adopted extensive safer gambling measures since 2020 – the developments could be seen as indicative of tightening regulation in the UK.

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