UK bookmaker William Hill has been ordered to pay a £6.2m penalty package by the Gambling Commission (UKGC) following “systemic senior management failure to protect customers and prevent money laundering”.
The fine follows an investigation by the UKGC between November 2014 and August 2016, which found that senior managers had failed to mitigate risks and have sufficient staff on hand to ensure their anti-money laundering and social responsibility processes were effective.
These lapses resulted in ten customers being allowed to deposit large sums of money linked to criminal offences, indirectly leading to gains for William Hill of in excess of £1.2m. These gains will be returned to the affected parties as a part of the settlement process.
Failures in William Hill’s anti-money laundering procedures allowed three customers to make deposit amounts of £654,000, £653,000 and £541,000 respectively with insufficient checks being made as to the source of these funds. It was later revealed that all three had received these funds from criminal enterprises.
A second set of failures in the company’s social responsibility policies resulted in two customers being allowed to continue to gamble in escalating amounts (which exceeded £100,000 in both cases) with insufficient control measures being employed to determine if these customers were problem gamblers. In both cases, William Hill did attempt to contact the customers but in the view of the UKGC it did not do enough to stop the problem gambling from continuing.
In a statement released with the UKGC’s findings, Neil McArthur, UKGC Executive Director said: “We will use the full range of our enforcement powers to make gambling fairer and safer.
“This was a systemic failing at William Hill which went on for nearly two years and today’s penalty package – which could exceed £6.2m - reflects the seriousness of the breaches.
“Gambling businesses have a responsibility to ensure that they keep crime out of gambling and tackle problem gambling - and as part of that they must be constantly curious about where the money they are taking is coming from.”
This latest fine is the second multi-million pound fine for a gambling operator in 12 months following the £7.8m fine levied by the UKGC against fellow operator 888 Holdings over social responsibility failures in August 2017.
Responding to the fine William Hill CEO, Philip Bowcock, commented: “William Hill has fully co-operated with the Commission throughout this process, introducing new and improved policies and increased levels of resourcing.
“We have also committed to an independent process review and will work to implement any recommendations that emerge from that review. We are fully committed to operating a sustainable business that properly identifies risk and better protects customers. We will continue to assist the Commission and work with other operators to improve practices in the areas identified.”