Proof that even the largest, most
reputable online casinos make mistakes.
The UK is home to the world’s largest,
strictest, and most methodically regulated internet gambling
industry. The success surrounding the UK market is so impressive that
other jurisdictions often struggle to live up to such a high bar of
Operating in such a market naturally emits an air of sophistication for the UK’s license holders, but the latest news from the regional gaming regulator is more proof that no matter how big the company, no matter how impressive its reputation, none are above the law, and that mistakes can and often will be made.
UK’s Largest, Most Reputable Online Casino Fined
The UK Gambling Commission has struck one of its largest and most successful licensees, the Ladbrokes Coral Group, with a massive fine of £5.9 million. Over the last two years, the size of the UKGC’s fines has grown exponentially – partly because the government said the severity of punishments will increase to dissuade continued acts of non-compliance, and partly because the severity of the infractions themselves.
In Ladbrokes Coral’s case, it’s a bit of both.
Ladbrokes and Coral merged in 2016, and were acquired by GVS Holdings
in 2018. While Ladbrokes record has been pretty clean up until now,
the former Gala Coral Group has failed more than one compliance
investigation in the past. Apparently, since teaming up, those
failing have not been properly addressed, leading to multiple issues
of “systematic failure” and a fine of £5.9 million to be paid by
the new parent company, GVC Holdings.
‘Systematic Failings’ in Gambling Harm Prevention
The UKGC’s investigation into the online
gambling group revolved around numerous incidents that occurred
between November 2014 and October 2017 – both before and after the
merger. The report indicates that the operator(s) “failed to put in
place effective safeguards to prevent consumers suffering gambling
harm and against money laundering, with its failing continuing after
their merger as the Ladbrokes Coral Group.”
The non-compliance issues spanned four
Ladbrokes: Social irresponsibility
involving failure to interact with a customer who lost £98,000 over
2 1/2 years, compounded by 460 declined deposit attempts and a
direct request from the customer to stop sending promotional
Coral: Failure to request proof of
source of funds from a customer who spent over £1.5 million in 34
months, Coral was unable to provide evidence of socially responsible
interactions with the customer, who displayed clear problem gambling
behavior, including a single-month average of 10 logins per day and
£64k in losses incurred in one month.
Ladbrokes: Unable to provide evidence
of socially responsible interaction with a customer who deposited
£140k+ in first month of membership.
Ladbrokes: Identified at-risk behavior
in a customer, but failed to follow up with any interaction or
request proof of source of funds.
UKGC Action and GVC Response
The UKGC has ordered GVC to pay £4.8 million
in penalties for the multiple systematic failings, and to divest £1.1
million in revenue the operations generated from those infractions,
to be paid out to the affected parties.
In addition, the UKGA has ordered Ladbrokes
Coral to review its top 50 revenue-generating customers from
2015-2017 to identify and address more potential failings, and divest
of relative profits accordingly.
UKGC Executive Director Richard Watson
“Decision makers at gambling businesses need to invest in the welfare of their customers and the integrity of money being gambled with.”
“These were systemic failings at a large operator which resulted in consumers being harmed and stolen money flowing though the business and this is unacceptable.”
In an effort to maintain their status as reputable online casinos, GVC is humbly acquiesce to the findings, accepting the action against Ladbrokes Coral Group and agreeing to take all necessary action to bring its policies and procedures into compliance with UK regulations.
GVC Holdings CEO Kenny Alexander admits that,
after purchasing Ladbrokes Coral in 2018, his company discovered
“historic compliance failures.” Since completing the acquisition,
he adds that he has personally “overseen a systematic review of the
enlarged group’s player protection procedures and the individuals
responsible for these problems have exited the business.”
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