888 has vowed to continue collaborative efforts alongside the UK Gambling Commission after the William Hill Group received a record £19.2m penalty for an array of social responsibility and anti-money laundering failures.
Reflecting on the highest ever financial sanction handed down by the regulator, the operator cited that the infractions stem from previous ownership. It was also noted that remedial efforts to address the range of failures identified were undertaken “quickly”.
The financial punishment, which surpassed the £17m issued to Entain last year, will see Mr Green pay £3.7m, while William Hill’s online business will pay £12.5m and a further £3m is aligned to the company’s retail operations, which counts 1,344 gambling premises across Britain. All £19.2 million will be directed towards socially responsible purposes.
It was also noted that additional licence conditions will also be added to ensure a business board member oversees an improvement plan.
Finally, a third-party audit will also be undertaken to assess effective implementation of its AML and safer gambling policies, procedures and controls.
Responding to the regulatory action, a spokesperson for the operator said: “The settlement relates to the period when William Hill was under the previous ownership and management. After William Hill was acquired, the company quickly addressed the identified issues with the implementation of a rigorous action plan.
“The entire group shares the GC’s commitment to improve compliance standards across the industry and we will continue to work collaboratively with the regulator and other stakeholders to achieve this.”
In handing out its latest sanction, the regulator suggested that failings were “so widespread” and “alarming” that consideration was given to a licence suspension.
However, Andrew Rhodes, Gambling Commission chief executive, pointed to an immediate recognition of failings and swift collaborative efforts to improve in electing for a highest ever financial sanction.
This becomes the latest UKGC regulatory action issued this year, following 10bet’s £620,000 penalty package, Intouch Games being handed down a financial penalty of £6.1m, a third in four years; TonyBet being penalised £442,750 and Vivaro, trading as VBet, making payments in lieu of a penalty package of £337,631. The Commission last week penalised the Kindred Group’s Unibet and 32Red brands a combined £7.1m.
Since the start of 2022, the UKGC has concluded 26 enforcement cases with operators paying over £76m because of regulatory failures.