888 Holdings fined over £7.8 million
31 Aug 2017
By Abby Messick
By Abby Messick
888, one of the largest gambling operators in Britain and owner of 888 Casino, has been slapped with a £7.8 million ($10 million) fine after a technical glitch in its software enabled self-excluded players to place bets via 888's bingo platform.
More than 7,000 players deposited a total of £3.5 million into their accounts over a period of 13 months. One customer placed over £1.3 million in bets, £55,000 of which was stolen from their employer, and gambled for three to four hours per day. The U.K. Gambling Commission found that 888 failed to raise the alarm regarding this customer and many others, despite gambling activity that should have been a red flag.
UKGC's chief executive, Sarah Harrison, said in a public statement, "Safeguarding consumers is not optional. This penalty package of just under £8 million reflects the seriousness of 888's failings to protect vulnerable customers.
"The 888 sanction package will ensure those affected don't lose out, that the operator pays the price for its failings via a sum that will go to tackling gambling-related harm, and that independent assurance will be given to see that lessons are learnt."
Included in the £7.8 million penalty is £3.5 million with which to compensate self-excluded customers who deposited during the 13-month period and £62,000 to the employer who was stolen from. An additional £4.25 million will go to a socially responsible cause as an investment in tackling gambling-related issues.
888 released a statement, saying, "888 regrets the historic failings highlighted by the review and accepts the conclusion of the review which recognizes the significant lengths that 888 has gone to in order to address the concerns raised and prevent the issues highlighted from reoccurring.
"It was never 888's intention to benefit financially from this technical failure and we have completed a detailed process to identify all affected customers. The Group is refunding customers who were able to continue playing when they should have been excluded across 888's platforms."
In the wake of this snafu, 888 has taken steps to improve the algorithms used to identify at-risk players, enhanced checks on customers' sources of funds and will begin the process of training its team to better recognize and interact with vulnerable players, according to the release.