After an investigation carried out by the UK Gambling Commission, which revealed a series of anti-money laundering and social responsibility failings, sports betting and gaming group Entain will pay a financial penalty of GBP 17 million ($20.5 million).
Entain will pay GBP 14 million ($16.8 million) for failures at its online business LC International Limited, which runs 13 websites including ladbrokes.com, coral.co.uk, and foxybingo.com. It will also pay GBP 3 million ($3.6 million) for failures at its Ladbrokes Betting & Gaming Limited operation which runs 2,746 gambling premises across Britain.
Andrew Rhodes, Gambling Commission chief executive, said: “Our investigation revealed serious failures that have resulted in the largest enforcement outcome to date. There were completely unacceptable anti-money laundering and safer gambling failures. Operators are reminded they must never place commercial considerations over compliance.”
“This is the second time this operator has fallen foul of rules in place to make gambling safer and crime-free. They should be aware that we will be monitoring them very carefully and further serious breaches will make the removal of their license to operate a very real possibility. We expect better and consumers deserve better,” Rhodes concluded.
Entain is to pay £17 million for social responsibility and anti-money laundering failures at its online and land-based businesses. Read more: https://t.co/O38L8UCOjK pic.twitter.com/3V0sWIznxY
— Gambling Commission (@GamRegGB) August 17, 2022 According to the UKGC, the company allowed customers to gamble without an adequate source of funds checks being carried out, and it failed to identify and interact with customers at risk of experiencing harm. The company also allowed customers subject to inquiries and restrictions to open multiple accounts with the licensee’s other brands; and failed to oversee the failure of local staff or area managers to escalate potential concerns with customers sooner.
In terms of AML failures, the company failed to conduct an adequate risk assessment of the risks of their online business being used for money laundering and terrorist financing. Furthermore, the company had inappropriate controls in place, allowing significant levels of gambling spending to take place without knowing anything about customers’ financial situations.
As a result, the operator has now received a formal warning and will undergo an audit to ensure it is effectively implementing its anti-money laundering and social responsibility policies, procedures, and controls. Additional license conditions will also be added to ensure a business board member oversees an improvement plan.
In a new statement, Entain confirmed it has entered into a regulatory settlement with the Commission in order to conclude the matter, including the aforementioned £17 million fine, to be directed towards socially responsible purposes. The company recognized that certain legacy systems and processes supporting the operations of its British business during 2019 and 2020 were not in line with regulations. However, Entain noted UKGC’s statement said it “found no evidence whatsoever of criminal spend within Entain’s operations.”
As part of the settlement, the business agreed to appoint a Board sponsor to oversee the implementation of any further improvements identified by the original 2020 compliance assessments and to undertake an independent audit of the relevant policies and procedures at a future date.
The issues raised by the Commission relate to the period between December 2019 and October 2020, which according to the company “predates the many changes in the area of safer gambling and AML that Entain has introduced,” including its AI-assisted Advanced Responsibility and Care (ARC) program.