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By Ralph Trayfalgar, Updated:
The UK Gambling Commission has fined iGaming operator 888 for failings in customer protection, particularly in the areas of money laundering and corporate social responsibility.
Following the results of a recent investigation, online casino operator 888 UK Limited, who’s powerhouse brands include 888 casino and 777 casino, was fined £9.4 Million by the Gambling Commission after finding that the operator had violated money laundering and social responsibility standards. 888 UK Limited is one of the largest online casino operators in the world currently, with a portfolio of over 70 websites around the world, many of which are powered by their award-winning Dragonfish casino platform.
In addition to the penalties, the operator will be subjected to a thorough independent auditing process.
Information has been published around the reasoning behind this recent UK Gambling Commission casino fine, which reveals further details of the aforementioned details.
The report found that 888 had a policy that would initiate a Source of Funds (SOF) check on a customer only if said customer had deposited at least £40,000 - a violation of money laundering regulations. According to the findings of the inquiry, 888 relied on "verbal guarantees from clients regarding work income" and "open-source information to authenticate SOF" in order to operate. The UKGC also claims that the internet operator let one user spend £65,835 in only 5 months without undertaking the necessary SOF checks.
Among the other money-laundering errors identified were 888's failure to adequately enforce procedures requiring clients to provide SOF evidence before their accounts were restricted. According to the General Counsel, one client lost £15,000 ($20,100) after requesting SOF three weeks after the 10-day grace period ended.
The inquiry conducted by the UKGC also revealed a number of instances of social responsibility failure. According to the Commission, 888 failed to adequately identify players at risk because of procedures that mandated financial checks only when a consumer placed £40,000 ($53,600) in a single transaction. Furthermore, the regulator stated that the operator did not adhere to the official advice provided by the UKGC about client engagement.
The UK Gambling Commission cited many examples of social responsibility breaches, including a client who lost £37,000 ($50,000) in six weeks during the COVID-19 outbreak. Even though they had suffered a loss, the operator did not engage with the client in any way.
Another example was an NHS worker who was given a monthly deposit limit of £1,300 despite 888 knowing that said worker was only earning £1,400 each month.
The Commission also discovered that the operator's communications with its customers "predominantly consisted of an email that simply detailed the responsible gambling tools and did not demand a response from the consumer." One concern that the Commission identified was that the operator did not proactively set limitations on clients' accounts, among other things.
Arguably the most egregious detail to come out of this investigation is that this was not the first violation for 888. The operator had previously been fined £7.8 million by the Gambling Commission in 2017 after 888 was found to have “serious failings in its handling of vulnerable customers.”
Andrew Rhodes, chief executive of the UK Gambling Commission, addressed the most recent punishment by acknowledging the fact that, despite the tough circumstances, the two incidents involved failed consumers. Such shortcomings, in his opinion, are intolerable.
Rhodes emphasized that this is the biggest amount ever levied by the government, and that the UKGC may have to reconsider the licensing of 888 if the operator continues to make such serious mistakes and fail to keep gambling “safe and crime-free.”