UKGC Hits 888 with Record Fine for Failing Players

888 UK Limited has been has been hit with a record fine by the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) for failing to protect vulnerable players.

UKGC Sarah Harrison.

UKGC chief Sarah Harrison has said that player protection isn’t “optional” as 888 is hit with a record fine. (Image: sbcnews.co.uk)

Following a lengthy investigation into the way 888 handles problem gaming behaviours and self-exclusions, the UKGC has issued a fine topping £7.8 million. The fine is the largest ever issued by the UKGC because, as the regulator has stated, player protection isn’t “optional.”

Investigation Hits 888 in More Ways than One

When the UKGC announced that it was investigating 888 back in May, the publically traded company’s shares dropped by 8 percent. With the UK axis of 888 accounting for approximately 45 percent of the company’s revenue, the investigation into its “social responsibility” provisions caused investor confidence to drop.

Ever since the UKGC took charge of regulating the UK’s iGaming industry back in November 2014, it has made the protection of players one of its main goals. In addition to physically protecting a player funds by forcing operators to store them in accounts separate from their operating funds, the UKGC has guidelines relating to the following areas:

Self-exclusion

Preventing underage gambling

Advertising and marketing

Player information

Under the UKGC’s Licence conditions and codes of practice (LCCP), operators need to ensure they keep players safe, informed and aware in the above areas and more. According to the agency’s recent report, 888 failed to meet regulations with regards to self-exclusion and player information.

As outlined in the report, 888 allowed more than 7,000 players to access its bingo platform even though they’d self-excluded themselves from its casino, poker and sports betting platforms. On top of this, the operator’s security team failed to identify signs of problem gambling, including a punter that wagered £55,000 in stolen funds.

Fine to Help Improve UK iGaming

In commenting on the record fine, chief executive at the Gambling Commission Sarah Harrison explained that the amount was justified as it sends a message to other operators. With social responsibility such a hot topic in the UK, £7.8 million was deemed to be an appropriate amount to punish 888 and, moreover, compensate those affected.

“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,” said Harrison in an official statement.

In light of the review, the UKGC has also ordered an independent audit of 888’s player protection provisions to ensure it doesn’t fall foul of regulations again. For its part, 888 issued a statement explaining that it “regrets” the incidents and has now enacted a number of positive changes.

 

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