The business of online gambling can be a harsh and unforgiving world, as managers and employees of renowned gambling brand, 888, have just learned. Their company was fined a record £7.8 million for their failure to adequately safeguard vulnerable players and for their lapses with social and individual responsibility.
The UK Gambling Commission found 888’s handling of vulnerable punters very flawed, leading to bad protection from gambling harm. Their investigation has found that more than 7000 players were still able to gain access to their own accounts and continue gambling, even though they chose to temporarily self-exclude themselves from further gambling activities. This technical failure went unnoticed for a longer period of time (13 months) during which vulnerable players deposited £3.5 million. The commission found 888’s self-excluding mechanisms “not robust enough” even though their procedures “were in place.”
Another instance in which 888’s cushion measures were sub-par occurred when officials failed to address the issues caused by an individual gambler. This particular customer wagered £1.3 million, and £55 thousand of that amount was money stolen from their employer! The severity of this omission becomes even more serious when you bear in mind that this gambler was placing a huge number of bets during a 13-month period, playing 3-4 hours per day on average. Still, the brand’s management did not think it important to interact with the player and investigate him closely despite this high frequency playing and the large amount of money wagered.
The UK Gambling Commission has, therefore, decided to fine 888 with a £7.8 million package: £3.5 million will be repaid to customers who wished to self-exclude themselves and £62 thousand will be returned to the employer from whom money was stolen. The remaining £4.25 million will go to causes preventing problem gambling.
The Gambling Commission’s CEO, Sarah Harrison, said that these penalties are here to “ensure that lessons are learnt” and added: “Our requirements are that every company must provide the facility for every customer to be able to bar themselves from gambling. These 7,000 looked to do that. But 888 didn’t deliver it as effectively as they should have done.”