Entain, the company that owns Ladbrokes and Coral, might lose its license to practice in the UK after being ordered to pay a record £17 million settlement for its inaction as particular users spent hundreds of thousands of pounds.
The government’s announcement of a review of gambling regulations coincided with several failures in Entain’s online and offline operations that were all noted by the Gambling Commission. As a result, the industry has pledged to strengthen measures to combat addiction and stop money laundering.
One of the “completely unacceptable” occurrences that led to Entain’s second regulatory penalty in three years was interacting with a client through chat just once over the course of 18 months despite the fact that they had deposited £230,845.
Another customer who had been denied access to Coral’s betting services due to complaints about their betting was permitted to open a new account with another Entain brand and make a single deposit of £30,000 in one day. Without doing enough affordability checks, a third person was permitted to deposit £742,000 over the course of 14 months, and another who was believed to reside in social accommodation was permitted to deposit £186,000 over the course of six months.
Users lost hundreds of thousands of pounds in a number of other cases without having their funding sources checked. The failures occurred at the same time as the industry lobbying body, the Betting and Gaming Council, was actively opposing ideas intended to stop vulnerable people from suffering punishing losses, like tight affordability checks.
A wagering white paper with a number of similar initiatives to tighten the regulations governing the £11 billion industry was supposed to be released in June, but it has been postponed due to the Tory party’s elections for a new leader.
Entain agreed to terms of the regulatory settlement with the commission that required it to undertake an “improvement plan” to tighten up safeguards meant to combat gambling addiction and money laundering.
“This is the second time this operator has fallen foul of rules in place to make gambling safer and crime free. There were completely unacceptable anti-money laundering and safer gambling failures. Operators are reminded they must never place commercial considerations over compliance. They should be aware that we will be monitoring them very carefully and further serious breaches will make the removal of their licence to operate a very real possibility. We expect better and consumers deserve better,” said the regulator’s chief executive, Andrew Rhodes, referring to a £5.9m fine issued in 2019 for similar failings.