| Firm handed
big fine over failure to spot problem gambling and prevent money
Betting group William Hill
has been fined £6.2m by the gambling industry regulator for failing to
protect consumers and prevent money laundering.
In a statement, the UKGC
said it had identified systemic senior management failure across
anti-money laundering and social responsibility regulations between November
2014 and August 2016.
An investigation from the national regulator
found that senior management failed to mitigate risks and have sufficient
numbers of staff to ensure their anti-money laundering and social
responsibility processes were effective.
It is the
commissions second-largest penalty on record, after it fined the betting
firm 888 £7.8m last year for failing to protect vulnerable customers. The
regulator said that as a result of failings by senior management and staff at
William Hills online operations, 10 customers were able to deposit money
linked to criminal offences, which resulted in financial gains for the group of
Tim Miller, executive director of the Gambling
Commission, said there were clear warning signs of problem gambling in the
spending patterns of some customers that William Hill should have picked up on.
The regulator ruled that William Hill did not adequately seek information
about the source of their funds or establish whether they were problem
In many respects, this wasnt properly
resourced or staffed, so a lot of the checks werent happening. People
were potentially able to gamble money that was the proceeds of crime; in one
case, money stolen from a local council, Miller told BBC Radio 4s
There were clear warning signs, the escalating
amount of money that was being spent should have set off alarm
William Hill will pay £5m for breaching regulations
and a further £1.2m for the money earned from the transactions with the
10 customers. The commission said if further failures relating to this case
emerge, the firm will forfeit any money made from these transactions.
Neil McArthur, executive director of the regulator, said the commission
was prepared to use the full range of its powers to make gambling fairer and
This was a systemic failing at William Hill which went on
for nearly two years and todays penalty package which could exceed
£6.2m reflects the seriousness of the breaches.
Gambling businesses have a responsibility to ensure that they keep
crime out of gambling and tackle problem gambling and as part of that
they must be constantly curious about where the money they are taking is coming
The commission said that William Hill failed to adequately
seek information about the source of their funds or establish whether they were
As part of its investigation, the commission found
that one customer was allowed to deposit £541,000 over 14 months, after
William Hill staff assumed his income could be £365,000 a year based on a
verbal conversation and without further questioning. The customer was in fact
earning around £30,000 a year and was funding his gambling habit by
stealing from his employer.
The betting industry is currently awaiting
the details of a government clampdown on fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs),
which are machines that allow customers to stake up to £100 every 20
seconds on digital casino games such as roulette. It is understood the
government is considering tough curbs, potentially cutting maximum bets on the
machines to £2.
Campaigners against FOBTs claim they are
particularly addictive, clustered in deprived areas, and allow gamblers to rack
up huge losses.
William Hill will now appoint external auditors to
review its anti-money laundering and social responsibility policies and
Responding to the fine, William Hills chief
executive, Philip Bowcock, said: William Hill has fully co-operated with
the commission throughout this process, introducing new and improved policies
and increased levels of resourcing. We have also committed to an independent
process review and will work to implement any recommendations that emerge from
We are fully committed to operating a sustainable
business that properly identifies risk and better protects customers. We will
continue to assist the commission and work with other operators to improve
practices in the areas identified.