William Hill has been hit with a £6.2 million penalty package by the UK Gambling Commission (UK GC) for failing to comply with social responsibility and anti-money laundering regulations.
The fine comes after an investigation into William Hill operations between November 2014 and August 2016.
The investigation found that 10 customers had deposited large sums of money that were linked to criminal offences, resulting in a net gain to William Hill of £1.2 million.
The UKGC says that the betting firm failed to ask questions about the source of funds deposited into these accounts or to establish whether the customers were problem gamblers.
In a statement on the UKGC website the regulator says: “Senior management failed to mitigate risks and have sufficient numbers of staff to ensure their anti-money laundering and social responsibility processes were effective.”
The penalty is made up of a £5 million fine for breach of regulations and an obligation to divest of the £1.2 million profit made from the transactions.
Neil McArthur, Executive Director of the UK GC said: “We will use the full range of our enforcement powers to make gambling fairer and safer.
“This was a systemic failing at William Hill which went on for nearly two years and today’s penalty package – which could exceed £6.2m – reflects the seriousness of the breaches.
“Gambling businesses have a responsibility to ensure that they keep crime out of gambling and tackle problem gambling – and as part of that they must be constantly curious about where the money they are taking is coming from.”
The UK GC statement gives examples of where William Hill had failed to fulfil the responsibilities set out in the terms of the UK license.
One customer made deposits in excess of £147,000 over an eighteen month period during which they lost over £112,000. The customer was identified in the system as a potential problem gambler, but the only response from the Will Hill operations team was to send two automated social responsibility emails.
Another customer deposited £653,000 during an eighteen month period. This customer was flagged in the system as ‘amber risk’ and requiring a customer review. The file was passed to manager for review but the matter was taken no further and the player continued to gamble with Will Hill for a further six months.
The firm will now appoint external auditors to review all processes relating to anti-money laundering and social responsibility and will be asked to share their findings with the industry.
The £6.2 million penalty issued to Will Hill is the second largest fine levied by the UKGC after 888 were forced to pay over £7.8 million in 2017 for failures to handle vulnerable customers with due care.