In the United Kingdom and giant land-based and online bookmaker, Ladbrokes Coral Group, has reportedly been hit with a fine of £5.9 million ($7.1 million) for failing to fulfill its social responsibility obligations and prevent money laundering.
According to a report from The Guardian newspaper, the financial penalty represents one of the largest ever imposed by the nation’s Gambling Commission regulator and relates to seven shortcomings that took place in the four years to 2017.
The newspaper reported that Ladbrokes Coral Group was purchased by Isle of Man-based GVC Holdings in March of last year via a £3.2 billion ($3.8 billion) deal and has been penalized following the discovery of instances where it was adjudged to have failed to intervene as problem gamblers lost hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Richard Watson, Executive Director for the Gambling Commission, reportedly told The Guardian that these infractions had included one where the bookmaker had neglected to ask a customer about the source of their funds despite the fact that the punter had lost approximately £1.5 million ($1.8 million) over the course of almost three years. He purportedly declared that Ladbrokes had also not carried out any ‘social responsibility interactions’ with this player even though they had displayed the obvious signs of having a gambling problem such as accessing their account up to ten times a day and at one point losing some £64,000 ($77,897) in only one month.
A separate case cited by the Gambling Commission had involved Ladbrokes turning a blind eye as another punter lost around £98,000 ($119,200) in 30 months, seen some 460 attempted deposits into their account declined and had asked the firm to stop sending them marketing materials.
The bookmaker was moreover adjudged to be unable to supply evidence of carrying out any social responsibility interactions with a third customer even though this punter had deposited in excess of £140,000 ($170,400) within only four months of opening their account. The Gambling Commission purportedly stated that a fourth infraction had even seen Ladbrokes Coral Group allow a patron to carry on placing bets despite having identified ‘significant concerns’ about their suitability.
Watson reportedly told the newspaper…
“These were systemic failings at a large operator, which resulted in consumers being harmed and stolen money flowing though the business and this is unacceptable.”
The Commission reportedly explained that GVC has agreed to the penalty and will pay approximately £4.8 million ($5.8 million) to help fund responsible gambling causes alongside a further £1.1 million ($1.3 million) to compensate ‘affected parties’ such as those who were the victims of any crimes associated with illicit wagers.
Kenneth Alexander, Chief Executive Officer for London-listed GVC Holdings, reportedly told The Guardian that his firm had unearthed ‘historic compliance failures within certain areas of the operations’ soon after purchasing Ladbrokes Coral. He proclaimed that these discoveries had prompted the operator to conduct ‘a thorough, prompt and far-reaching investigation’ in partnership with the Gambling Commission ‘and an independent firm of solicitors’ before agreeing to the settlement.
Alexander told the newspaper…
“These historical failings were unacceptable and since the acquisition I have overseen a systematic review of the enlarged group’s player protection procedures and the individuals responsible for these problems have exited the business.”
As part of the settlement, GVC is reportedly reviewing a further five suspicious cases and has arranged to conduct an investigation into the accounts of Ladbrokes Coral’s top 50 customers for the three years to 2017. The operator purportedly explained that it has moreover since substantially increased the number of its employees who are dedicated to responsible gambling and compliance tasks and made significant improvements in its capability to ensure punters have the financial means to place their bets.