888 has been hit with a $12.5 million fine by the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) for failing to protect vulnerable customers.
The UKGC announced the fine Tuesday and warned it could strip 888’s license entirely if the company does not improve.
888 previously paid a $10.4 million fine in 2017 for the same offense.
888 operates the SI Sportsbook in the US, which is live in Colorado.
UKGC chief exec Andrew Rhodes said:
“Today’s fine is one of our largest to date. 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 safe and are carrying out checks to ensure money is crime-free.”
What 888 did wrong
888 CEO Itai Pazner said in a statement the company had taken “immediate appropriate action to improve and address the failings.”
- Failed to check customer finances until customers had deposited $53,000.
- Failed to interact with a customer who lost $49,000 in six weeks during the pandemic.
- Gave a customer, known to be an NHS worker earning $1,900 a month, a monthly deposit cap of $1,800.
- Did not properly consider customer activity across multiple accounts. In one example, a customer had one of his 11 accounts restricted because of Source of Funds (SOF) concerns. However he was allowed to open three more accounts and continue gambling.
What could it mean for 888 in the US?
US regulators will be well aware of the fine, according to Keystone Law partner Richard Williams.
“There is a clear indication from Andrew Rhodes that if this happens again the operator’s (license) will be at serious risk of revocation,” Williams told LSR. “Revocation of a GB (license) would clearly be a real problem for regulators in the US.”
“The financial limits set by 888 for social responsibility intervention appear to be very high. Although I am sure this has been fixed by now, regulators in the US will want to be sure that similar issues will not put US residents at risk.”
Growing awareness of problem gambling
The size of the 888 fine is unheard of in US sports betting. However, there is a growing awareness of the need to protect vulnerable customers.
Arizona sports betting regulators released responsible gambling guidelines ahead of the Super Bowl.
Meanwhile, a new bill in Kentucky aims to put $225 million into a problem gaming fund to help people with gambling addiction.