British gambling company William Hill has been hit by a record £19.2m fine by the UK gambling regulator.
Three gambling businesses owned by the company will pay the sum for “widespread and alarming” social responsibility and anti-money laundering failures, the Gambling Commission said.
The entities who will pay the fines will be WHG (International) Limited, which runs williamhill.com and will pay £12.5m; Mr Green Limited, which runs mrgreen.com, which will pay £3.7m; and William Hill Organisation Limited, which operates 1,344 gambling premises across Britain and will pay £3m.
Latest figures show parent company 888 reported £1.85bn in revenue for the year up to the end of December 2022, while company profits for the year will be published in April.
It’s not the first time the company has faced fines. In 2018 a £6.2m fine was issued by the regulator for similar issues: systemic social responsibility and money laundering failures.
Failures identified by the regulator in the latest fine included allowing a customer to open a new account and spend £23,000 in 20 minutes, all without any checks.
Another social responsibility failure identified was failing to conduct any checks and allowing a different customer to open an account and spend £18,000 in 24 hours.
A third customer was able to spend £32,500 over two days, also without any checks.
Due to “ineffective controls” 331 customers were able to gamble with WHG (International) Limited despite having self-excluded themselves with Mr Green.
Anti-money laundering failures allowed customers to deposit large sums without appropriate checks. Sums deposited were as high as £70,134, which one customer spent and lost in a month.
Another lost £38,000 in five weeks while a third lost £36,000 in four days.
A licence suspension was considered, the Gambling Commission chief executive said.
“When we launched this investigation the failings we uncovered were so widespread and alarming serious consideration was given to licence suspension,” Andrew Rhodes said.
“However, because the operator immediately recognised their failings and worked with us to swiftly implement improvements, we instead opted for the largest enforcement payment in our history.”
A spokesperson for William Hill parent company 888 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 company was purchased by 888 from Caesar’s Entertainment in July 2022.
“The entire group shares the [Gambling Commission’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,” the spokesperson added.