William Hill Prepares for UK Gambling License Review, Allocates £15 million for Legal Costs

By Ralph Trayfalgar, Updated:

The UK Gambling Commission is in the process of reviewing the license of William Hill, to which the gambling operator has responded by allocating £15 million in anticipation of potential legal battles that may arise. 

Information on the license review was found in papers linked to an update on 888's acquisition of William Hill's non-US company, that they were conducting an investigation and considering penalties. The license review was conducted after a compliance assessment done between July and August 2021. William Hill has committed to taking action on anti-money laundering policies and corporate social responsibility initiatives. 

The update documents dealt with an agreement reached between 888 Group and existing William Hill owner Caesars to decrease the cash part of the acquisition price for the William Hill assets by £250 million. As explained by 888, the modification was made to "reflect changes in the macroeconomic and regulatory environments" that have occurred since the agreement was reached last year.

As a result, William Hill has set up a provision of £15 million in its financial statements to cover the possibility of fines. The betting company paid £11.6 million to the Gambling Commission in 2020 for failures linked to social responsibility and money laundering requirements for high-spending clients, which was the highest regulatory settlement ever given by the Commission.

The company further stated that Caesars has also agreed to provide indemnification for "certain licensed organizations" inside the William Hill organization. Because of this arrangement, Caesars would be responsible for any additional costs incurred if any of the licenses owned by William Hill businesses - which include both the William Hill brand and Mr Green Casino - were terminated or suspended.

Regulatory action had also been taken against 888 previously. The UKGC fined 888 casino for £9.4 million for a variety of social responsibility and money laundering violations, including failing to set a £40,000 deposit barrier for financial checks.

Following the imposition of the penalties, Commission chief executive Andrew Rhodes stated that if similar failures occur in the future, the regulator may be forced to "seriously review the suitability of the operator" to perform its obligations as a licensee.

Its answer acknowledged the ruling and stated that, since the regulator's compliance assessment was completed in 2020, it had taken "prompt and appropriate" measures to change its policies and processes to reflect the new information.

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