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William Hill to Pay a £6.2 Million Fine
- February 21, 2018 By Oliver Young -
Gambling giant William Hill Group (WHG) has been hit with a massive penalty package of £6.2 million for money laundering and social responsibilities failures. According to the investigation conducted by the UK Gambling Commission, the operator breached several regulations related to anti-money laundering and social responsibility in the period between November 2014 and August 2016.
Neil McArthur, Executive Director from the Gambling Commission, has stated that they would “use the full range” of their enforcement powers to make gambling “fairer and safer” for consumers. He pointed out that the failure at William Hill was a systematic one and “went on for nearly two years.” According to McArthur, the amount of the penalty perfectly reflects the “seriousness of the breaches.”
Senior Management Failures and Insufficient Number of Staff
As it can be seen in the statement published by the UK Gambling Commission, it is believed that the senior management wasn’t successful in mitigating risks. Furthermore, there was also an insufficient number of staff to guarantee that the company’s social responsibility and anti-money laundering processes were successfully applied.
It seems that these failures led to ten consumers being able to make large payments of funds linked to criminal offences. The WHG gain from these processes is assessed at around £1.2 million. The company, which operates numerous sports betting venues and the popular online casino William Hill, failed to seek sufficient details regarding the source of the money or even establish whether the consumers were problem gamblers.
Part of the massive £6.2 million fine are exactly those £1.2 they made from the suspicious deposits. Additionally, a fine of £5 million was issued for the breach of regulations. Moreover, WHG will also have to divest themselves of any profit they made from similar transactions if further incidents related to this particular case come to light.
Additionally, WHG shall hire external auditors whose task would be reviewing the effectiveness and implementation of the company’s policies related to social responsibility and anti-money laundering. These learnings shall be shared with the wider industry too.
Such Failures are Unacceptable and Intolerable
Just like Neil McArthur has highlighted, such failures are considered unacceptable and intolerable by the Gambling Commission. The Executive Director has stated that gambling businesses have the responsibility to make sure that crime is kept out of gambling as well as fight problem gambling. Therefore, McArthur concludes, they must be “constantly curious” where the funds deposited by customers comes from.
Some provided examples of the failures by the operator were provided by the Gambling Commission. One such is a user who made deposits of a total amount of £654,000 within a nine-month period. However, that same customer at the time lived in rented accommodation and had annual income of around £30,000.
The penalty package for the William Hill Group comes days after the CAP has announced new and stricter regulations regarding online gambling advertising. Therefore, it seems that the authorities are more than ever dedicated to creating a safer gambling environment to all existing and future consumers.