The United Kingdom Gambling Commission has fined Ladbrokes Coral Group £5.9 million for failing to protect problem gamblers and for falling short of money laundering prevention standards. In a report posted Wednesday, the Commission posted the results of an investigation that found problems from November 2014 to October 2017; during much of that time, Ladbroke and Coral were two separate companies. They merged in November 2016 and the combined company was acquired by GVC Holdings in March 2018.
The Commission cited a number of examples of how Ladbrokes and Coral dropped the ball:
• During a two-and-a-half year period, one customer lost £98,000, had 460 deposit attempts declined, and asked Ladbrokes to stop sending promotions, but Ladbrokes never intervened with any “social responsibility interactions.” At least all those deposits were declined.
• One customer spent £1.5 million over nearly three years, but Coral never asked for proof of the customer’s source of funds. The player averages ten logins per day during one month and lost £64,000 in a month, but again, Coral failed to engage in any of those “social responsibility interactions,” even though the customer was showing signs of problem gambling.
• Again, no checking on a customer who deposited £140,000 within four months of opening a Ladbrokes account.
• Ladbrokes actually identified a possible problem gambler, but then never asked for proof of income or tried to verify if the gambler could afford his losses.
What it all boils down to is that the Commission has laid out processes that online gambling companies need to have in place to know their customers, identify possible problem gambling patterns with customers, and to step in to determine if there really is a problem, either with a player’s gambling frequency/habits or the amount wagered. Ladbrokes and Coral fell short in these areas.
The parent company, GVC, has agreed to take steps to improve. Among those steps include increasing its resources for responsible gaming, implementing more training, and “hiring a dedicated player protection expert outbound call team.” It will also hire an independent firm to take a look at new “high or higher-risk” customers.
Of the £5.9 million in fines, £4.8 million will go to the National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms and £1.1 million will go to any players who were victimized by customers who should not have been playing on the site(s). £24,700 will also be paid to the Commission for its investigative costs.
This is the first announcement of penalties by the Commission since June. In consecutive days, it was revealed that Gamesys was fined £1.2 million and Platinum Gaming Ltd. was fined £1.6 million, both for social responsibility and money laundering failures.