UKGC Fines William Hill £6.2 Million

Mia Gardner | 01 Mar 2018

UKGC Fines William Hill £6.2 MillionAs a result of its failure to identify problem gambling and money laundering, established UK gambling operator William Hill has been ordered to pay a £5 million fine to the United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC). The operator will also hand over the entire £1.2 million revenue earned off of this problem gambling to the Commission.

The UKGC has revealed that, between November 2014 and August 2016, at least 10 players deposited money linked to criminal offences using the operator’s facilities. These violations, says the regulator, are directly linked to William Hill’s negligence, resulting in the second-largest fine ever issued by the UKGC.

A Systemic Failure

The UK Gambling Commission has attributed these serious violations to what it calls a systemic failure of William Hill’s upper management. The UKGC claims that upper management failed to comply with money laundering regulations and did not live up to its corporate social responsibility to protect its players.

UKGC Executive Director Tim Miller told BBC Radio 4’s “Today” programme that William Hill overlooked many clear warning signs – in particular, the escalating amount of money being spent by suspicious players. Miller added that management had not employed sufficient staff or resources to maintain a vigilant watch over its’ players’ activities.

The Commission’s General Counsel, Neil McArthur furthermore stressed that gambling operators like William Hill have a responsibility to keep crime away from the industry and to combat problem gambling. As part of this, said McArthur, operators must be ever curious about the source of money wagered via their channels.

Suspicious Transactions

One of the problem players identified in the Commission’s investigation was allowed to deposit £541 000 over 14 months, with William Hill staff assuming that his income was around £365,000 a year, based solely on an informal conversation. It was later discovered, however, that this player actually only earned £30 000 a year and was stealing from his employer to fund his gambling habit.

In another case, the proceeds used by players to place wagers had been stolen from a local council.

By failing to identify signs of problem gambling, which the Commission says were obvious, in 10 different players over the two-year period in question, William Hill was in breach of social responsibility regulations. Furthermore, the operator’s failure to adequately identify the sources of these players’ funds was a breach of anti-money-laundering regulations.

Making Amends

General Counsel McArthur said that the regulator is prepared to use the full range of its powers to make gambling fairer and safer. The severity of the £6.2 million penalty, he said, reflected the seriousness of the offence.

William Hill Chief Executive, Philip Bowcock has announced that the operator will appoint an independent external team to audit its anti-money-laundering and social responsibility policies and procedures. Bowcock said that William Hill is committed to operating a sustainable business that identifies risks and protects its customers.

 

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