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Commission goes up a gear in drive to make layers protect customers

888: hit with record fine for failing to protect punters
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The record punishment handed out to 888 on Thursday illustrates the extent to which the Gambling Commission, after such an inert start to its existence, is really baring its teeth when it comes to operators meeting their obligations to protect customers from harm.

The penalty is more than double the punishment National Lottery operator Camelot received over allegations of a fraudulent prize claim last year, which itself was three times higher than previous sanctions the regulator had imposed.

The one small mercy for 888 was that the commission did not enforce its ultimate sanction of withdrawing their licence.

There have been plenty of warnings to the industry that the Commission was changing its approach to dealing with those who fail to meet the required standards.

The commission's chief executive Sarah Harrison had shown her willingness to impose stringent penalties when she was senior partner in charge of enforcement at energy regulator Ofgem. In 2014, six energy companies were fined a total of nearly £55 million for failing to meet their obligations.

This summer she had told operators that the commission's previous approach had not created "sufficient deterrent".

888's punishment represents a real step change and will have operators reviewing their systems to ensure they do not suffer the same fate.

There have been plenty of warnings to the industry that the Commission was changing its approach
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