888 Receives $10M Fine for Social Responsibility FailingsSeptember 1, 2017 12:11 pm
The U.K. Gambling Commission has handed 888 a record fine of £7.8 million ($10m), after the online gambling firm demonstrated “serious failings in its handling of vulnerable customers.” Nevertheless, 888 can at least be thankful that the Commission decided not to revoke the operator’s license all together.
The extent of 888’s failings appear to have been on a large-scale, with over 7,000 self-excluded gamblers still able to gain access to the site’s games for around 13 months, resulting in an extra £3.5 million being deposited into their accounts. According to 888, however, the situation was caused by a “technical failure”, with the operator saying that it never had the intention of benefiting financially from the error.
On a more positive note, part of the huge fine levied against the firm will be used to reimburse the self-excluded gamblers who were able to play on the site between October 2015 and September 2016. Commenting on the issue, Gambling Commission chief executive, Sarah Harrison, stated:
“Our requirements are that every company must provide the facility for every customer to be able to bar themselves from gambling. These 7,000 looked to do that. But 888 didn’t deliver it as effectively as they should have done.”
In one extreme case, a self-excluded individual was able to gamble £1.3 million on the site for more than a year, with at least £55,000 of that amount stolen from their employer in order to fund their gambling habit. Furthermore, the customer would often place extremely large bets on the site, and as the Gambling Commission subsequently explained:
“The lack of interaction with the customer, given the frequency, duration and sums of money involved in the gambling, raised serious concerns about 888’s safeguarding of customers at-risk of gambling harm”.
As well as paying back self-excluded customers, and the employee who had money stolen from their company, £4.25 million of the fine will also be used to fund social responsible causes designed to address gambling-related problems. Currently, there are more than 2 million people vulnerable to gambling problems in the UK, and as Ms Harrison explains:
“Companies are beginning to put different practices in place to identify people right up front, but more needs to be done. We need to go further and we need to go faster.”