Gambling Commission Fines 888 £9.4 million

Gambling Commission Fines 888 £9.4 million

888 have received a £9.4 million fine from the Gambling Commission. The fine has been given after several social responsibility and anti-money laundering failings.

Andrew Rhodes is the chief executive of the Commission. He said that if these failings continued to happen then they may have to “seriously consider the suitability of the operator” to carry out the responsibilities they have as a licensee.

One area of concern for the Gambling Commission was social responsibility. Identifying customers who may be at risk of gambling harm is important. However, at 888, affordability checks were only being carried out after deposits had reached £40,000.

The Gambling Commission highlighted one case where a player lost £37,000 in the space of just six weeks during the pandemic. An NHS worker who earned £1,400 a month was allowed to set a monthly deposit cap of £1,300, nearly their entire monthly earnings.

Customer interactions at 888 were also considered to fall short of what is needed. They would send out an email telling a customer the responsible gambling tools available. However, a response from the player was not required. The regulator also says there was no evidence found that 888 placed restrictions on accounts where there were concerns over social responsibility.

Concerns over source of funds

One customer had 11 accounts with them. One was restricted because there were concerns over their source of funds. However, not only were they allowed to keep the other ten, three more accounts were then opened.

When it came to customers confirming their income, 888 accepted verbal assurances. Open-source information was accepted to validate the source of their funds. They also failed to set out the exact documents required to be part of their checks. One of their customers spent £65,835 in five months but no source-of-funds checks were carried out by 888.

888 did have a policy that said customers had ten days to present source-of-funds documentation. Failure to do so would see restrictions placed on the customer account. The Gambling Commission say that 888 did not carry out this policy effectively. One customer wasn’t asked for the documents until three weeks after the ten-day trigger. During those three weeks, the customer lost a further £15,000.

Additional conditions have now been added to 888’s operating licence. They will be required to conduct a third-party audit with 12 months of the review. This will be to see if they are effectively implementing their policies in regard to anti-money laundering, social responsibility policies, controls and procedures.

This isn’t the first time 888 have been penalised by the Gambling Commission. Five years ago, they had to pay a £7.8 million penalty package. That was imposed for failing vulnerable customers.

888 have accepted this latest decision and said that since October 2020 (when the compliance assessment ended) they had taken “immediate and appropriate” action aimed at improving internal policies and procedures.