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Wednesday, 12 December, 2018

More penalties predicted for operators following William Hill £6.2m fine

William Hill: fined £6.2m for breaching anti-money laundering regulations
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Industry figures believe there will be more painful penalties handed out by the Gambling Commission to operators, although one industry figure said he thought they were being treated unfairly.

This week the Gambling Commission hit William Hill with a £6.2 million penalty for breaching anti-money laundering and social responsibility regulations after a "systemic senior management failure" meant there was not adequate staffing or systems in place to respond to repeated alerts about suspicious behaviour.

Gambling Commission executive director Tim Miller told the BBC he thought "this isn't going to be the last time that we'll be using our powers in this way".

Remote Gambling Association chief executive Clive Hawkswood agreed, saying on Wednesday: "Given how diverse the industry is and the complexity of the regulatory requirements I’d say it was inevitable that there will be similar cases, but obviously the scale of any problems and consequent penalties could vary greatly depending on the details of each case.  

"From an industry perspective the challenge now is to minimise the risks of that happening."

Warwick Bartlett: sympathy for betting operators

Warwick Bartlett, chief executive and founder of the Global Betting & Gaming Consultancy, agreed, adding he had sympathy for operators.

The events in the William Hill case went back to 2014 and Bartlett said that other companies would have had a similar experiences.

"In 2014 none of the operators really had any idea what the authorities expected them to achieve, and that only became apparent toward the end of 2015," Bartlett said. "Now there is more understanding of what is required.  

"However, operators do not really have enough tools to do the job. For example source of funds was highlighted in all the cases brought against William Hill which should be the responsibility of payment processors and banks.  

"Gambling companies do not have access to credit scoring, or any financial information on their customers because they are not financial institutions. So they are operating from a distinct disadvantage."

Bartlett asked whether employers should also take responsibility for "lax control" allowing employees to steal from businesses.

"What is happening in my opinion seems contrary to what we understand as justice," he added. "Having been in the industry for 52 years I should be used to it, but I am not."

There was less sympathy forthcoming for William Hill from GambleAware chief executive Marc Etches.

He said: "William Hill has shops on almost every high street, and exposure at numerous sports events. They should be at the forefront of working to protect people from gambling-related harm, but they have failed and that is unacceptable.

"This is one of a number of large fines imposed on the gambling industry in recent months, and so it is clear that gambling businesses need to do a much better job at intervening earlier and protecting their customers from gambling-related harm."

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From an industry perspective the challenge now is to minimise the risks of that happening
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