August 31st 2017
888, one of Britain’s biggest online gambling firms, is to pay a record penalty package of over £7.8 million as a result of serious failings in its handling of vulnerable customers.
The action follows the discovery of significant flaws in 888 UK Limited’s (888) social responsibility processes, which aim to protect consumers from gambling-related harm.
The investigation – conducted by the Gambling Commission – revealed that:
– Because of a technical failure in 888’s systems, over 7,000 customers who had chosen to self-exclude from their casino/poker/sport platform were still able to access their accounts on their bingo platform. This issue remained undetected for a prolonged period of time, meaning customers were able to deposit £3.5 million into their accounts, and then continue to gamble, for over 13 months. While 888 did have self-exclusion procedures in place, they were not robust enough and failed to protect potentially vulnerable customers.
– 888 also failed to recognise visible signs of problem gambling behaviour displayed by an individual customer, which was so significant that it resulted in criminal activity. The customer staked over £1.3 million, including £55,000 stolen from their employer. During a 13 month period the customer placed a large number of bets, gambling on average 3-4 hours a day. The lack of interaction with the customer, given the frequency, duration and sums of money involved in the gambling, raised serious concerns about 888’s safeguarding of customers at-risk of gambling harm.
Sarah Harrison, Chief Executive at the Gambling Commission said: “Safeguarding consumers is not optional. This penalty package of just under £8million reflects the seriousness of 888’s failings to protect vulnerable customers.
"The 888 sanction package will ensure those affected don’t lose out, that the operator pays the price for its failings via a sum that will go to tackling gambling-related harm, and that independent assurance will be given to see that lessons are learnt.”
The penalty package will see 888 pay £7.8 million, which includes repayment of the £3.5million of deposits made by the self-excluded customers and compensation of £62,000 to the employer from whom money was stolen. A further £4.25 million will be paid to a socially responsible cause to invest in measures to tackle gambling-related harm. In addition, for future assurance, the Commission has ordered an independent audit of 888’s processes relating to customer protection.
Get Safe Online's advice
If you feel that your gambling is getting out of control, you can contact GamCare for free, confidential information, advice or counselling support: Freephone 0808 8020 133 or via web chat at www.gamcare.org.uk (8am-midnight, seven days a week).
If you are not sure how much gambling has become a problem for you, you might like to take GamCare’s online assessment tool. It will ask you a series of questions about your gambling behaviour. When you have finished it will give you a personalised report and advise you as to what your next steps might be.