The William Hill Group was hit with a record penalty of £19.2 million on 28th March 2023. This is spread out over three of its gambling businesses which failed to meet UKGC regulation over anti-money laundering and social responsibility. This is the largest penalty awarded since Entain was hit with a £17 million fine in 2022. The group was bought out by 888 recently and the new parent company have been quick to point at that these failings took place prior to them taking charge and were all fixed very quickly once the purchase was complete.
Which William Hill Companies Were Hit with Penalties?
The bulk of the cost, £12.5 million, was given to WHG Limited which runs the hugely popular WilliamHill.com. The company that runs MrGreen.com, Mr Green Limited, were also hit with £3.7 million in fines. Finally, a £3 million fine was presented to William Hill Organization Limited which operates 1,344 gambling premises in Britain.
It was a close call for the company, as chief executive of the Gambling Commission, Andrew Rhodes, said that there was ‘serious consideration’ given to completely suspending their license. However, as the company recognised that there had been failings, the Commission instead opted to hit them with a record breaking fine.
Many Firms Falling Foul of Regulations
In recent years, there has been a big crackdown by the UK Gambling Commission on gambling firms that are breaking the law. Since 2022, there have been 26 prosecution cases and gambling operators have been fined more than £76 million. Just last week, the Commission gave a fine of £7.2 million to the Kindred Group plc for two of their operators’ regulatory failures.
What Were the Social Responsibility and Anti-Money Laundering Failures at William Hill?
A large portion of the fines issued to William Hill was done so for social responsibility failures. Some of the most serious issues included:
- Failing to protect new customers and not having appropriate checks in place for high amounts of spending in a short period of time
- Failing to ask high rolling gamblers for evidence of their income or picking up on the risk of harm. For example, one customer was able to gamble and lose £54,252 in one month without the operator carrying out any serious checks
- Failing to carry out checks at the earliest stages of new customers creating their account
- Customers were allowed to lose significant sums of money in a short period of time with no sufficient controls in place
- Not enforcing the 24-hour delay on requests and approvals to increase the credit limit
- Not enforcing bans on players who had self-excluded from its other gambling sites
- Failure to request Source of Funds
- Failure to conduct appropriate checks on customers who had deposited very large sums of money
- Alongside the fine, the William Hill Group will also have extra licence conditions enforced. The fine will be used for socially responsible purposes.