William Hill Group Issued £19.2M Fine by UKGC

The United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC) has imposed an unprecedented £19.2 million regulatory fine on the three principal subsidiaries of the William Hill Group. WHG (International) Limited, operating the William Hill Online platform, succumbed to the heftiest portion of the penalty at £12.5 million. The online casino Mr Green faces a penalty of £3.7 million, while the retail branch, William Hill Organisation Limited, will face a £3 million penalty.

Social Responsibility and AML Failings

The UKGC’s enforcement actions were prompted by William Hill’s failure to adhere to multiple social responsibilities and anti-money laundering (AML) licensing obligations, as with numerous other operators previously penalised. The compliance shortcomings occurred between May and October 18 for William Hill Online and Mr Green, and from January 1, 2020, to October 18, 2021, for the group’s retail division.Gambling Commission CEO Andrew Rhodes remarked, “Upon initiating this investigation, the discovered failings were so pervasive and concerning that license suspension was seriously considered. However, due to the operator’s prompt acknowledgement of their shortcomings and cooperation in rapidly implementing improvements, we chose to impose the largest enforcement payment in our history instead.”Among the failures was a lack of adequate customer protection measures. For instance, three separate bettors were able to wager thousands in a 24-hour period, and another spent £32,500 in two days with no checks whatsoever.Moreover, 331 customers who had previously self-excluded from Mr Green were able to place bets online with William Hill. Both companies were criticised for not identifying and intervening with customers at risk.Additionally, a 24-hour delay between receiving a request for a credit limit increase and approving it was not enforced. Some retail customers experienced significant losses in short periods, a total of £11,400 was lost in 30 days due to a lack of credit control checks being initiated.Both William Hill Online and Mr Green were criticised for AML deficiencies, including a lack of “hard stops” to curb spending and mitigate risk during customer profiling, insufficient action based on profile results, and inadequate staff training in risk management. The brands were also reproached for permitting customers to deposit substantial sums without conducting the appropriate checks.

Largest Penalty to Date

Finally, retail clients of William Hill were able to place large wagers without adequate monitoring or scrutiny. The £19.2 million fine is the largest to date and surpasses the £17 million fine imposed on Entain last year for similar compliance violations.With the release of the White Paper on UK Gambling Act reform due anytime, the UKGC will continue to maintain strict policies towards operators who breach licensing requirements. These actions against William Hill follow a £7.1 million fine levied on Kindred Group’s 32Red and Platinum Gaming brands.Rhodes added, “In the past 15 months, we have taken extraordinary measures against gambling operators, but we are now beginning to observe signs of progress. The industry appears to be making gambling safer and minimizing the potential for criminal funds infiltrating their businesses.”

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