Ladbrokes owner is hit with £17m fine after betting giant failed to spot problem gamblers
- Ladbrokes and Coral owner fined for not stopping problem gamblers betting
- Entain licence could be stripped after gambling and money laundering failures
- Gambling Commission chief Andrew Rhodes called it ‘completely unacceptable’
The owner of Ladbrokes and Coral has been fined a record £17million for failing to stop gamblers betting hundreds of thousands of pounds without checks.
FTSE100 giant Entain could now be stripped of its licence to operate after it was found to have made ‘completely unacceptable’ safer gambling and anti-money laundering failings.
The penalty is the largest ever levied by the Gambling Commission and the second time the company has been fined in five years.
In a damning ruling, commission chief executive Andrew Rhodes said gambling companies ‘must never place commercial considerations over compliance’.
Campaigners said the fine was too small to prevent law-breaking because it pales in comparison to Entain’s annual profits, which are more than half a billion pounds, while one MP called for chief executives to face criminal action for failures that could allow money laundering.
FTSE100 giant Entain could now be stripped of its licence to operate after it was found to have made ‘completely unacceptable’ safer gambling and anti-money laundering failings
The penalty is the largest ever levied by the Gambling Commission and the second time the company has been fined in five years
The commission’s investigation found a litany of failings between December 2019 and June 2020.
Entain did not assess the risks of its business ‘being used for money laundering and terrorist financing’, and failed to adequately monitor potentially vulnerable players.
Staff carried out only one interaction, via an online ‘chat’, with a customer who deposited £230,845 over 18 months and spent long periods gambling in the middle of the night – a sign of addiction.
They failed to block players who could not explain the source of their gambling funds – a vital step is reducing the risk of money laundering and terrorist financing. One was allowed to deposit £742,000 in 14 months without proper checks.
There were also failings in high street shops. One customer lost £11,345 in a month but wasn’t referred to responsible gambling teams.
The fine outstrips the £13million penalty handed to Caesar’s Entertainment in 2020 and is a significant blow for the industry, which has claimed vulnerable customers are already adequately protected.
Staff carried out only one interaction, via an online ‘chat’, with a customer who deposited £230,845 over 18 months
Boasts: Jette Nygaard-Andersen claimed Entain leads on safety
Isle of Man-based Entain – the second largest listed bookmaker in the UK which was recently valued at £8billion – has claimed to be at the forefront of safer technologies.
Chief executive Jette Nygaard-Andersen told shareholders in June last year: ‘We continue to lead the market in the critically important area of responsible betting and gaming.’
But Carolyn Harris MP, chairman of the all-party parliamentary group on gambling-related harm, said: ‘This fine shows gambling companies cannot be trusted to regulate themselves and protect vulnerable players.’
Ronnie Cowan MP, vice-chairman of the group, added: ‘Fining companies worth billions doesn’t solve anything. Giving a chief executive prison time may be the only way to make the industry change its ways.’
Entain said it ‘notes the commission’s statement that it found no evidence whatsoever of criminal spend within Entain’s operations’, adding: ‘The issues raised by the commission relate to [a period] which predates the many changes in the area of safer gambling and anti-money laundering that Entain has introduced.’
Ministers have delayed plans to reform gambling laws for a fourth time, but senior Tories have promised to publish a White Paper once a new prime minister is in office.
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