iGaming giant 888 has been ordered to pay a £9.4 million (€11.29 million) fine by the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC), after an investigation revealed social responsibility and money laundering failures.

The company’s UK subsidiary, 888 UK Ltd, which operates 78 websites including 888.com, has also received an official warning, and is expected to undergo “extensive” independent auditing.

The sanction makes the second time 888 UK Ltd has faced a multi-million pound enforcement action, as in 2017 they paid a £7.8 million (€9.37 million) penalty package for failing vulnerable customers.

Andrew Rhodes, Gambling Commission chief executive, said: “The circumstances of the last enforcement action may be different but both cases involve failing consumers – and this is something that is not acceptable. 

“Today’s fine is one of our largest to date, and 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.”

Social responsibility failures cited by the UKGC include:

  • Not effectively identifying players at risk of harm because their policies determined financial checks should be carried out after a customer had deposited £40,000 (€48,000)
  • Not carrying out customer interaction with one player who lost £37,000 (€44,445) in a six week period during the COVID pandemic
  • Not taking into account the UKGC’s formal guidance on customer interaction
  • Giving a customer they knew was an NHS worker earning £1,400 a month a monthly deposit cap of £1,300 (€1,561.6)
  • Most of the customer interactions conducted predominately consisted of an email detailing the responsible gambling tools and did not require a customer response
  • During a UKGC assessment, there was no evidence of the operator proactively placing restrictions on accounts where social responsibility concerns were raised
  • Not ensuring that if a customer has multiple accounts those accounts are managed for customer interaction holistically and financial limits can be implemented across all accounts. In one example, a customer had one of his 11 accounts restricted because of Source of Funds (SOF) concerns, but he was allowed to open three more accounts and continue gambling.

There were also a number of major money laundering failures, which included:

  • Implementing a policy where customers are allowed to deposit £40,000 (€48,000) before carrying out SOF checks
  • Accepting verbal assurances from customers as to employment income and being reliant on open-source information to validate SOF
  • Not setting out which documents should be requested as part of SOF checks
  • Allowing one customer to spend £65,835 (€79,082) in five months without SOF checks having been carried out
  • Not effectively implementing its own policies which stated that customers have 10 days to present SOF documentation before their account was restricted. in one case a customer’s SOF were not requested until three weeks after the 10 day trigger and lost £15m000 during that period.

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