LONDON – The UK’s gambling watchdog has fined online casino operator 888 a record £7.8 million for failing to stop problem gamblers using its services, saying that in one case the problem was “so significant that it resulted in criminal activity.”
UKGC found two major failings in the way 888 protected vulnerable customers:
- 7,000 customers who had chosen to “self-exclude” – i.e. ban themselves from the websites because they know they have a problem with gambling – were banned from 888’s casino, poker sites, and sports betting platform but could still get onto its online bingo platform. These customers spent £3.5 million over 13 months; 888 also failed to spot red flags with one individual customer who gambled £1.3 million on the site over 13 months, £55,000 of which had been stolen from his employer. The person in question gambled three to four times a day and UKGC said: “The lack of interaction with the customer, given the frequency, duration and sums of money involved in the gambling, raised serious concerns about 888’s safeguarding of customers at-risk of gambling harm.”
Sarah Harrison, CEO of the UKGC, said in a statement: “Safeguarding consumers is not optional. 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 learned.”
The £7.8 million fine included: £3.5 million repaid to those who “self-excluded” but were still able to access the bingo site; £62,000 for the employer who had money stolen (the £55,000, plus compensation); and £4.25 million for “a socially responsible cause to invest in measures to tackle gambling-related harm.”
888 said on Thursday in response to the fine that it “accepts the Conclusion of the review and is committed to providing players with a responsible as well as enjoyable gaming experience.”
888’s shares are up close to 5% on Thursday morning.