Entain has been handed a record £17 million (US$21 million) fine by the UK Gambling Commission for a series of “completely unacceptable” social responsibility and anti-money laundering failures. Further violations could result in removal of its license, the regulator said Wednesday.
Entain, formerly GVC, owns the Ladrokes, Coral, bwin, and PartyPoker brands, among others, and jointly owns BetMGM in the US with MGM Resorts International.
The sanction will severely embarrass the company, which has positioned itself as leading the UK industry in promoting responsible gambling.
Entain Failed Customers
Entain is one of the biggest online gambling operators in the world. Facing the threat of tightened regulatory controls in the UK, it has been at the forefront of efforts to demonstrate the industry is capable of responsible self-regulation.
It spearheaded a “whistle-to-whistle” ban on gambling advertising in the UK around televised sports events, for example. And it has pledged to donate £100 million ($US121 million) over five years to problem gambling research, education, and treatment though its Entain Foundation. In June, it even released a series of “responsible gambling NFTs.”
But according to the UK Gambling Commission, the company has not always practiced what it preaches. Infractions included completing just one chat interaction with a customer who deposited £230,845 (US$279,000) in 18 months and spent extended periods gambling overnight.
One customer was permitted to deposit £742,000 ($US896,000) in 14 months without appropriate affordability checks. Another was allowed to gamble with £186,000 ($US225,000) over six months, despite staff knowing they lived in social housing.
“Our investigation revealed serious failures that have resulted in the largest enforcement outcome to date,” Andrew Rhodes, Gambling Commission chief executive, said in a statement. “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,” continued Rhodes. “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.”
In a statement to Casino.org, Entain said it accepted that “certain legacy systems and processes … in 2019 and 2020 were not in line with the evolving regulatory expectations of the Commission in respect to aspects of social responsibility AML safeguards.”
But it added that the relevant violations predated “the many changes in the area of safer gambling and AML that Entain has introduced.”
It also noted that the UKGC found no evidence of “criminal spend” during its investigation.
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