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Gala Interactive fined £2.3m by Gambling Commission

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ladbrokescoralpenalty
ne bingo operator Gala Interactive has been ordered to pay a £2.3m penalty package following a Gambling Commission (UKGC) investigation which revealed the company had failed to be socially responsible in its dealings with two problem gamblers.

The two VIP gamblers, known only as customer A and B reportedly lost over £1.3m playing the company's online games, with customer A losing £837,545 over a 14-month period and customer B losing £432,765 over an 11-month period.

In both cases the investigation found that stolen money was used to fund these losses, with both receiving prison sentences of four and four-and-a-half years respectively following criminal trials.

The UKGC found that Gala had breached its code clause 3.41 relating to customer interaction, which states that “Licensees must put into effect policies and procedures for customer interaction where they have concerns that a customer’s behaviour may indicate problem gambling.”

The clause states that the policies must include "Provision to identify at risk customers who may not be displaying obvious signs of, or overt behaviour associated with, problem gambling; this should be by reference to indicators such as time or money spent and specific provision in relation to customer designated by licensee as ‘high value’, ‘VIP’ or equivalent".

Gala’s agreed penalty package settlement includes a £1m payment made to fund research into problem gambling, a £1.3m settlement to the respective employers of customers A and B and a voluntary additional payment of £200,000 to “to put to good use in the context of research relating to the causes of problem gambling and how this manifests itself in customer behaviour.”

In a statement announcing the findings of the investigation, Sarah Harrison, Chief Executive at the UK Gambling Commission, said: “We will continue to take robust action where we see operator failures that harm consumers and the wider public.

“It is the responsibility of all operators – particularly key decision makers in those companies - to ensure they are protecting their customers and step in when there is behaviour that might indicate problem gambling.”

“This did not happen in this case and the £2.3m penalty package should serve as a warning to other operators.”

Acknowledging the penalty package, Ladbrokes Coral Group Chief Executive Jim Mullen said: “In the two cases reviewed with the Commission, it was clear that within our operations, we had not met our own standards or those demanded by the Commission. While we will always be exposed to risk of people failing to follow procedures, we accept that, in this case, the failings were evidence of a lack of priority being given to changes in approach identified in earlier engagements.

“The Ladbrokes Coral business has moved on since these cases occurred and the mind-set of the Board and the management is that there can be no short cuts on delivering our social responsibility and anti-money laundering obligations.”


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