Gambling Commission fines William Hill £6.2m

British bookmaker William Hill has been fined £6.2m by the UK Gambling Commission due to consumer protection and anti-money laundering failures.

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William Hill has been fined a total of £6,2m by the Gambling Commission. © Pexels.

The Gambling Commission has ruled that from August 2014 to 2016, William Hill did not spot obvious signs of problem gambling, which in turn led to breaches of anti-money laundering and social responsibility rules and regulations.

Ten customers were able to deposit funds linked to criminal groups and offences, which led to William Hill earning over £1m. The Commission states that this was the direct result of senior management failures in risk mitigation and insufficient numbers of staff available. According to the Commission, the operator did not do enough to question the source of the money or to investigate whether the customers had gambling problems.

The fine breaks down into a £5m payment for the breach of regulations, plus the £1.2m the bookmaker earned as a result of the customer activity, with the total fine equaling £6.2m. The Commission also stated that victims of the ten customers that can be identified will also be reimbursed and that William Hill will also be made to give out further funds should evidence of further failures be established.

Speaking about the penalty, Neil McArthur, executive director at the Commission, said:

We will use the full range of our enforcement powers to make gambling fairer and safer. This was a systemic failing at William Hill which went on for nearly two years and today’s penalty package – which could exceed £6.2m – reflects the seriousness of the breaches. Gambling businesses have a responsibility to ensure that they keep crime out of gambling and tackle problem gambling – and as part of that they must be constantly curious about where the money they are taking is coming from.Neil McArthur, executive director at the Commission

A number of significant failures

The fine is related to a number of failures from William Hill over the period.

One customer was able to deposit £654,000 over a nine month period with no checks on the source of the deposits carried out by the operator.

In a similar case, another customer deposited £541,000 over a fourteen month period. According the Commission’s report, William Hill had assumed the customer’s income was £365,000 after a verbal conversation. In fact, the customer earned £30,000 per year and was stealing from his employer to fund the deposits.

Some cases were flagged up by the bookmaker. But, despite spotting potential suspicious issues, the bookmaker failed to act.

In one such instance, a customer that deposited £653,000 over eighteen months activated a financial alert at the bookmaker. The risk required a review of the customer profile and the profile was marked in the system as transferred to management for the review. However, due to a system failure this did not occur and the customer was able to continue betting for another six months while continuing to trigger financial alerts.

In another instance, a customer had deposited over £100,000 and was contacted by William Hill about the level of deposits. The bookmaker received verbal assurance that the customer was comfortable with their spending and then did nothing more to investigate the issue and surrounding circumstances.

In response to the verdict, William Hill has said it will appoint external auditors to review its policies towards anti-money laundering and social responsibility.

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