Lisa Cheban | 12 April, 2023 12:52 | Last update on: 12 April, 2023 12:52
The UK Gambling Commission has lately been cracking down on licensed operators who fail to implement gambling laws fully. William Hill Group is the latest operator to bear the full brunt of the no-nonsense operator. The UKGC has fined William Hill Organization Limited, Mr Green Limited, and WHG Limited a total of £19.2 million, the highest fine for any operator to date.
According to the UKGC, the group’s brands are guilty of violating anti-money laundering laws and neglecting their social responsibilities. WHG (International) Limited, which operates williamhill.com, will pay a chunk of the fine at £12.5 million, whereas Mr Green (mrgreen.com) was fined £3.7 million. The remainder will be paid by William Hill Organization Limited, which operates over 1,300 gambling venues in the UK.
Sadly, this is not the first UKGC fine on William Hill Group. In 2018, the regulator slapped the operators with a £6.2 million penalty for failings related to systemic social responsibility and anti-money laundering.
In the latest fine, the regulator discovered that a betting customer opened a new account and spent £23,000 in 20 minutes without the company conducting the necessary checks. The regulator also accuses William Hill of allowing a customer to register and spend £18,000 in 24 hours. In another incident, the UKGC says that the operator failed to conduct the required checks on a customer who proceeded to spend £32,500 over two days.
Meanwhile, the UKGC noted that 331 customers who were part of the self-exclusion program on Mr. Green could still open an account and wager on WHG (International) Ltd due to “ineffective controls.” In addition, the company’s AML failures allowed clients to deposit significant amounts without the necessary checks. One consumer spent and lost £70,134 in a single month, while another bettor lost £38,000 over five weeks. A third player lost £36,000 in just four.
According to the Chief Executive of the UKGC, Andrew Rhodes, the regulator seriously considered suspending William Hill Group’s licence. He said:
“When we launched this investigation, the failings we uncovered were so widespread and alarming serious consideration was given to licence suspension. However, because the operator immediately recognised their failings and worked with us to swiftly implement improvements, we instead opted for the largest enforcement payment in our history.”
On their part, 888’s spokesperson, William Hill’s parent company, defended the company saying the failings can be traced to when the company was under previous ownership. He assured that the new management has already addressed the issues raised by the UKGC.
“The entire group shares the [Gambling Commission’s] commitment to improve compliance standards across the industry and we will continue to work collaboratively with the regulator and other stakeholders to achieve this,” 888 added.