Commission penalty relates to VIP schemes that reward heavy
The casino company has been
fined a record £13m by the Gambling Commission for failures relating to
VIP schemes that the regulator is considering banning.
managers at Caesars Entertainment, which has 11 casinos in UK cities and
seaside towns, will also lose their licence to run a gambling business.
The sanction marks the second time in less than three weeks that the
regulator has handed out a record penalty, after Betway was forced to pay out
£11.6m in March.
The tougher stance comes as the commission is
under pressure, accused of being too weak after a damning report that said it
was being outmuscled by the gambling industry and incapable of ensuring
vulnerable people were protected.
The regulator found that Caesars was
guilty of a series of serious systematic failings in its treatment of VIPs, who
are typically offered perks to inspire loyalty because they bet and lose large
sums. The failures included allowing a customer to lose £323,000 in a
year, despite clear signs of gambling addiction such as playing for five hours
on more than 30 occasions.
Another customer who was known to have
signed up to self-exclude from gambling was allowed to start
playing again, losing £240,000 over a 13-month period. Another person, a
self-employed nanny, told Caesars she had spent her savings and was borrowing
from family and using her overdraft to gamble but the company still allowed her
to lose £18,000 in a year.
A retired postman also lost
£15,000 in 44 days without being properly asked for information about the
source of his funds.
Caesars was also guilty of failing in its efforts
to prevent money laundering, failing to check on the source of funds of someone
who wagered £3.5m in three months, or a politically exposed person (PEP)
who lost £795,000 in just over a year. In money-laundering rules, a PEP
is someone who is at higher risk of being involved in bribery and corruption by
virtue of their position.
The Gambling Commission chief executive, Neil
McArthur, said the incidents were extremely serious. In recent times the
online sector has received the greatest scrutiny around VIP practices but VIP
practices are found right across the industry and our tough approach to
compliance and enforcement will continue, whether a business is on the high
street or online.
Caesars Entertainment UK said it
acknowledges falling short of its standards and accepts the settlement
reached with the British Gambling Commission].
discovering, immediately addressing, and reporting deficiencies in 2018, we
have enhanced our compliance policies and procedures and are complying with the
license conditions and commissions guidance for best practice. We are
confident of the efficacy of our compliance initiatives going forward.
The regulator is already reviewing VIP schemes via a working group led
by the Ladbrokes owner, GVC, itself the subject of criticism over cases
involving customers being rewarded for losing large amounts of money.
The groups suggestions so far include limiting VIP status to
over-25s and performing stricter checks on someones financial status
before offering them perks.
Alex Macey, of the Gamvisory campaign
group, said: All the destructive and damning evidence I have seen from
high-yield VIP disorder gamblers, suggests the routes of the problems are very
much with the over-25s. This decision reaffirms our suspicions from the off
that the involvement of GVC in this process has tainted the outcome. The
Gambling Commission has lost all trust and needs overhauling.