Playtech has issued a response to the UK Gambling Commission’s prior statement regarding what the regulator labelled ‘systemic failings’ of the company’s PT Entertainment Services subsidiary, following a review of the group’s position led by new interim chairman Claire Milne.
Having previously donated £619,395 in recognition of PTES’ regulatory breaches to charities that are dedicated to reducing gambling related harm as well as supporting education and treatment, Playtech is subsequently increasing the amount to £3.5m. This matches the figure deemed appropriate by the regulator had the PTES business not subsequently been closed.
It is noted that the decision to close its subsidiary “was made prior to the commencement of the Gambling Commission’s investigation as part of a strategic decision to focus the group’s efforts on B2B activities in the UK”.
Playtech has also pledged to donate a total of £5m to mental health and gambling-related harm charities over the next five years as part of its strategy to promote better online health.
Milne explained: “The findings of this investigation do not reflect where Playtech stands today. But while the company has made many positive and important changes, we feel it is only right for us to recognise these historic failings by offering this increased amount.
“In speaking with many of our stakeholders, it was clear they felt the failings were not representative of the Playtech they know. Through this action, we want to send a message to them and the wider industry of who we are today and aspire to be.
“Raising industry standards on safer gambling and being a leader in responsible business is central to our strategy as a technology partner. In my new role as interim chairman, I am fully committed to this continuing to be a key focus of ours going forward.”
The Commission’s investigation, undertaken between May 2015 and September 2017, is said to have identified “serious systemic failings” in the way PTES managed its social responsibility and anti-money laundering processes.
An investigation into PTES, which used to trade as www.winner.co.uk and titanbet.co.uk, came after the UKGC was contacted by the family of a former customer who tragically took his own life in April 2017, aged 25.
In relation to the individual in question, the UKGC concluded that the operator failed to carry out any responsible gambling customer interactions even though it was aware that several of his debit card transactions had been declined.
PTES is also said to have provided VIP status without verifying affordability, something which the regulator asserts represents “serious and unacceptable failings”.
Accepting full responsibility, Playtech issued an apology for the aforementioned regulatory breaches identified regarding anti-money laundering and social responsibility, asserting that they are not “reflective of the high standards the Playtech Group set itself at the time and not representative of the high standards the group delivers to its B2B partners today”.
In its response the company added: “The board extends its deepest sympathies to the family of Chris Bruney following the tragic event of his death. Claire Milne will be contacting the family to apologise personally for the regulatory breaches and to offer her condolences on behalf of the board and everyone at Playtech.
“Following the review, the board would also like to assure all stakeholders that decisive action was taken to address the breaches in PTES ahead of its closure in 2019. This was done to ensure that the group took steps to ensure that similar regulatory breaches would not occur again and included key management and personal management licence holders leaving the business and PTES being brought under the group compliance function in a restructuring of processes and oversight.”
Mor Weizer, CEO of Playtech, said: “We take full responsibility for these regulatory breaches. As a technology specialist, Playtech focuses on harnessing its capabilities in data-driven intelligence to place consumer protection at the centre of every stage of the player experience from game design to real-time engagement and messaging.
“In recent years, we have invested significantly to seek to ensure that these types of breaches do not happen again, including addressing the specific issues raised by the Commission.”