Ladbrokes Coral to pay £2.3m for Gala Interactive failures
Ladbrokes Coral has been issued with a £2.3 million penalty by the Gambling Commission after two customers gambled around £1.3m of stolen money through its Gala Interactive business.
The commission found Gala breached regulations protecting consumers, with a first customer losing £837,545 over 14 months and a second £432,765 over 11 months playing the company's online games.
Despite assurances from Gala last year following a previous case for similar shortcomings, the Gibraltar-based firm was deemed to have failed to adequately interact with the two customers, who were later sent to prison.
Additionally, there were no written policies and procedures in place to prevent such a situation occurring.
Ladbrokes Coral acknowledged the failures "fell short of the standards and procedures expected", adding that the issues pre-dated the merger between the companies in 2016.
Ladbrokes Coral chief executive Jim Mullen said: "The sector has an obligation to look to help customers help themselves and to seek to protect the vulnerable where self-help is evidently not going to happen.
"While we will always be exposed to risk of people failing to follow procedures, we accept that, in this case, the failings were evidence of a lack of priority being given to changes in approach identified in earlier engagements.
"The Ladbrokes Coral business has moved on since these cases occurred and the mindset of the board and the management is that there can be no short cuts on delivering our social responsibility and anti-money laundering obligations."
Ladbrokes Coral will pay £1.3m to the victims of the two customers and £1m, plus an additional voluntary £200,000, to fund research relating to the causes of problem gambling.
Last week Stan James Online was forced to pay £80,000 following a similar investigation, while in August online operator 888 paid a record £7.8m penalty after it failed to protect vulnerable customers.
Gambling Commission chief executive Sarah Harrison said: "We will continue to take robust action where we see operator failures that harm consumers and the wider public.
"It is the responsibility of all operators – particularly key decision makers in those companies – to ensure they are protecting their customers and step in when there is behaviour that might indicate problem gambling.
"This did not happen in this case and the £2.3m penalty package should serve as a warning to other operators."
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