The regulator fined William Hill more than £19 million, the stiffest fine it has ever imposed on an operator. According to officials, William Hill was found to have a series of recurring failures around safer gambling and anti-money laundering practices which the company says it has since addressed.
William Hill’s failings were so “widespread and alarming” that the Commission even considered suspending its gambling license altogether. The CEO of its parent company, 888, resigned from his role at the start of the year.
List of Regulatory Failures, Fines Piling Up
This is far from an isolated incident. Regulatory intervention has become more frequent and more severe in a number of jurisdictions around the world, putting firm pressure on companies who fail to follow the rules.
Here are some other notable penalties that online gambling operators have incurred in recent memory:
- In 2019, Spanish gambling regulator DGOJ fined 888 €1 million
- In 2019, the UKGC fined 888 a then-record £7.8 million
- In 2020, the UKGC fined Betway a then-record £11.6 million
- In 2020, the UKCG fined Caesars a then-record £13 million
- In 2020, Swedish gambling regulator Spelinspektionen fined Kindred Group £8.3 million
- In 2021, the UKGC fined Daub Aldernay £5.85 million
- In 2022, the UKGC fined 888 £9.4 million
- In 2022, the UKGC fined Entain a then-record £17 million
- In 2023, the UKGC fined In Touch Games £6.1 million
- In 2023, the UKGC fined 32Red and Platinum Gaming £7.1 million
That list is just a small sample of the fines that some of the largest gambling operators have faced in the past few years. And the records keep on falling.
Since the start of 2022, the UK Gambling Commission alone has issued at least 21 fines totaling almost £80 million and suspended at least four operator licenses. According to one report, fines across all worldwide jurisdictions approached £250 million for the 2022 calendar year.
It’s evident that local officials are becoming increasingly active in tightening and enforcing the rules and regulations for the gambling industry, and operators who fail to comply have come to expect significant repercussions.
Why Do Gambling Companies Continue to Face Penalties?
One of the primary reasons for these fines is the increased scrutiny on the industry by regulators, who have become more active in enforcing rules and regulations. Also there are lots of regulations.
Almost universally, the issue of problem gambling has become the main area of focus. Concern about the impact of gambling on vulnerable customers is growing, and regulators are increasingly taking steps to protect these individuals from harm. This effort often yields more stringent regulations, such as requirements for operators to carry out more extensive checks on customers to identify problem gambling behavior.
Another issue that has led to fines is the failure of operators to comply with regulations regarding money laundering and KYC procedures. With the rise of online gambling, there has been a corresponding increase in the risk of financial crime, and regulators are taking steps to address this. Operators are required to have robust systems in place to detect and prevent money laundering, and failure to comply with these regulations can lead to significant fines.
There have also been cases of operators being fined for advertising breaches. Advertising is a crucial tool for gambling operators to attract customers, but there are strict rules in place regarding the content and placement of advertisements. Failure to comply with these rules has resulted in negative attention from the media and significant fines from regulators.
Overall, the increase in fines for gambling operators is a reflection of the increasing regulatory scrutiny on the industry. Officials are taking a more proactive approach to ensure that operators comply with rules and regulations to protect vulnerable individuals and prevent criminal activity such as money laundering.
The Real Reason for Failure Is Much Simpler
Most of these fines were entirely avoidable. And the reasons for these failures all point back to one underlying cause: Companies largely haven’t demonstrated that they actually care about these rules. They might follow them – or at least try to. But they seem to only care about doing so to the extent that it keeps them from being fined, and even that hasn’t proven to be a sufficient deterrent.
The fact of the matter is that protecting your customers is about far more than just building practices that meet the local standards. It entails going far beyond these bare-minimum requirements and demonstrating a real commitment to a culture of safer gambling at every step of the way.
If you’re implementing best practices across your business, compliance will never be an issue.
A Shortcut to Regulatory Resilience and Safer Gambling
SG:certified understands that the regulatory process can be a daunting journey for operators, particularly in this volatile period where the rules seem to be constantly in change.
Our platform offers a roadmap to help you navigate the complex landscape and implement best practices. We do more than just help you avoid fines and keep your gambling license though. We help companies build better processes from the ground up, working across your entire organization to help you pursue the grander goals of real sustainability and safer gambling. Compliance is the easy part.
If you want to find out more about what we do, visit our website or schedule a free consultation with our team.