Another day, another casino operator getting fined by the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC). This time it’s William Hill, who has to pay a total of £19.2 million for “social responsibility and anti-money laundering failures.”
This news comes days after the UKGC fined a pair of Kindred Group operators a combined £7.2 million, only this time the story involves the biggest enforcement case taken on by the operator yet. The previous record holder was Entain, who was fined £17 million in August 2022.
“Unprecedented Action” Against Operators
The fines are divided between three William Hill businesses – WHG (International) Ltd, who runs the William Hill online casino, Mr Green Limited, the company behind the Mr Green online casino, and William Hill Organisation Ltd, which operates 1,344 land-based gambling premises across Britain.
William Hill stands accused of having insufficient controls to protect new customers, failure to identify customers at risk of problem gambling, and insufficient checks on new or returning customers that lead to their risk of substantial losses in a short period of time.
Furthermore, the UKGC says Mr Green allowed 331 customers to gamble despite having self-excluded themselves, while both WHG and Mr Green failed to have effective anti-money laundering (AML) procedures in place, leading to customers staking large sums without submitting Source of Funds (SoF) documents.
Fines Are Not “Chicken Feed”
Following the announcement of the fines, UKGC CEO Andrew Rhodes was asked by BBC Radio 4 whether these penalties actually amount to, as some critics suggest, little more than “chicken feed.” Rhodes denied these accusations, instead stating that they are not something that can be “shrugged off” lightly.
In addition, a spokesperson from William Hill International owners 888 noted that the charges are related to the period before it acquired William Hill’s non-US assets from Caesars last year.
“The entire group shares the UKGC’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,” the spokesperson adds.