It seems like a month cannot go by in the UK without us hearing of another gambling operator fine. The Gambling Commission of the UK has spent the past few years trying to straighten out the industry and to do this, it has needed to investigate various gambling brands. In conducting those investigations, the regulatory body has made some startling discoveries.
Time after time, operators have been coming up short in various areas. The severity of these operators’ failures has seen them receive fines of varying levels and it’s also the case that some brands have suffered penalties on more than one occasion, which is why we thought to put together a bit of an insight into them.
Here, we want to look at which gambling operators have received the most fines and not only that, but which ones have had to pay the biggest amount in total. There have been some well-documented instances of gambling brands being at fault. We also want to see what it is that they have received the fines for in the end. Join us as we take a look at the betting companies to have suffered the most fines.
The Issues for Entain Mount Up
Since 2016, UK betting companies have had to pay out a collective £156.59 million in fines and the fines over the years have continued to get bigger. It’s a difficult situation, especially considering the after-effects of COVID-19. Businesses are experiencing lower revenues, but still receive high fines to pay.
The worst of these recent gambling fines came about in August 2022. It was at this point that the Entain brand receive a fine of £17 million. £14 million of that related to failures at the company’s LC International Limited arm. This section of it handles sites like Ladbrokes, Coral and Foxy Bingo. The remaining £3 million of the fine comes from failures at Ladbrokes Betting & Gaming Limited. This operates over 2,700 gambling premises across the United Kingdom. The £17 million penalty was to be directed towards socially responsible purposes.
It is interesting to note that the fine imposed on Entain was actually a settlement. This hints that the actual fine could have been higher. But because Entain agreed to direct its funds to those purposes, it came out at £17 million. That’s still a massive segment of the brand’s revenue, and it stands out as the biggest fine on record. At the same time, new licence conditions came to light for the company. Through such, a business board member will oversee an improvement plan. Meanwhile, a third-party audit will take place to review Entain’s compliance in 12 months.
Further to this, it is poignant to note that this is not the first time Entain has had to pay a fine. In 2019, the Commission handed it a £5.9 million fine for similar failings. At that time, this served as one of the largest penalties issued by the UKGC. These transgressions actually occurred at the Ladbrokes Coral brand between 2014 and 2017.
This was before Entain acquired the company in 2018. Yet because by the time the investigation had completed, Entain had to pay the bill. It is also key to note that before 2019, Entain went by the name of GVC Holdings.
One other point to note about GVC is that another fine came its way in 2018. A £350,000 penalty came about due to misleading adverts. These advertisements incorporated information on free bonuses. The investigation stemmed from a 2016 complaint over the bonus ads and the Commission found that they did not fit in with advertising standards.
888 Holdings Gathers a Collection of Fines
The 888 Casino, Sport and Poker platforms may be well-known throughout the world. But this hasn’t stopped the operator from receiving fines from the UKGC. Two of them stand out as being the most prolific.
The first of those came about in August 2017. The Commission investigated 888 and found failures when it came to protecting vulnerable players. Over 7,000 people who had chosen to ban themselves from gambling were still able to access accounts. One of those customers managed to make 850,000 wagers at the 888 Sport site and those bets equated to £1.3 million altogether.
He stole money from his employer to fund his gambling habit. 888 said a technical issue had failed customers. Thus, those who signed up for self-exclusion were not blocked in the end.
As a result of those failings, the Commission fined 888 Holdings £7.8 million. It labelled the failures as “outrageous”. 888 was further chided for not spotting “visible signs of problem gambling”. The customer who stole money from their employer to gamble received a 16-month sentence.
The second instance of a fine coming 888’s way was in March of 2022. This time, the Commission issued a penalty of £9.4 million. That served as the third highest in the history of Britain’s gambling regulation. Many failings had occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic and these failures led to players losing thousands of pounds during the lockdowns.
The UKGC highlighted several transgressions, and also whether 888 remained suitable as a licensee. It said that 888 did not carry out any proper customer checks. In one instance, a check did not take place until a player had lost £37,000 within six weeks.
UKGC Welcomes Caesars To The UK With A Fine
Caesars Entertainment is well-known in the gambling world. Going by the name of Eldorado Resorts, Inc. in the initial stages, it based itself out of Reno, Nevada. Its history dates back to a hotel in Reno, which opened in 1973. It changed its name to Caesars Entertainment in 2020.
In an odd turn of events, it was in April of that year that the Gambling Commission imposed a fine. That penalty stood at £13 million and was for failures relating to VIP schemes. At the same time, three senior managers for the company lost their gambling licences.
Back then, Caesars had a much more prominent role in UK gambling than it does today. It held seven land-based casinos across the country, including the popular Metropolitan Mayfair. Yet in July 2021, Caesars sold its EMEA division to Metropolitan Gaming.
The investigation into Caesars found it to be guilty of various offences. One VIP player was able to lose £323,000 in one year and this came about despite clear signs of gambling addiction. Another customer had signed up to self-exclude but was able to return. She went on to lose £240,000 over 13 months. Further to this, Caesars failed in efforts to prevent money laundering. Combining all those issues together led to the £13 million penalty.
The Most Fined Companies To Date
|Gambling Operator||Total Amount of Fines in GBP|
|888 Holdings||£17.2 million|
|Caesars Entertainment||£13 million|
|Daub Alderney||£12.95 million|
|Casumo Services||£11.85 million|
|William Hill||£6.2 million|
|Flutter Entertainment||£4.67 million|
|Genesis Global||£3.8 million|
|InTouch Games||£3.4 million|
|Gala Coral||£3.15 million|
|Mr Green||£3 million|
|BV Gaming||£2 million|
|Silverbond Enterprises||£1.8 million|
Entain, 888 Holdings and Caesars Entertainment exist as the brands with the biggest fines. Yet there are several others that have racked up vast penalties. Combining the fines together (as some have received more than one fine), we can see which is worse off. Take a look at the table below to find out the gambling operators with the highest fines.
But what about the imposition of these fines on a year-by-year basis? Has the amount increased or decreased? Let’s have a look at the total amount in penalties issued since 2016.
|Year||Total Amount in Fines (GBP)|
|2022 (so far)||£46.02 million|
Apart from a couple of drops in 2019 and 2021, the general amount has increased. Over the past few years, it does seem like the UKGC has increased its fines and sanctions.
Various operators have had to deal with severe penalties for severe failures. One or two others have also had their licences revoked by the regulatory body. In November of 2020, for example, Silverbond Enterprises lost its licence. The company handled the running of Park Lane Casino.
The Commission took the decision it did because of a change in corporate control. It said it would likely not have issued a licence to the new controller of Silverbond back in the day. This came about due to its dissatisfaction with the source of funds utilised by the new controller.
In July of 2017, the Commission unveiled its new enforcement strategy and it was from this that it began taking a stricter stance on failing gambling operators. Repeated failings were something that the Commission wanted to tackle and it said that higher penalties would occur in these situations. Entain and 888 Holdings have both felt the wrath of that statement.
If you look at 2018, gambling companies paid £28 million in fines. This came about, for the most part, due to failings in two specific areas. Anti-money laundering and social responsibility and it is those key areas that remain the prime problems of operators today. The recent record Entain £17 million fine was due to failures in both those zones and the penalties have increased to try and tackle these problem areas.
Whether gambling companies will make their practices more effective remains a question. But if the UKGC are still fining brands today on the matter, something isn’t working.
In 2022, the total amount in fines issued stands at over £46 million and the year isn’t over yet. That could grow to an even bigger figure by the end of December. Not only that, but the Commission has suspended many licences as well. They include the licences of:
- Addison Global Limited
- Stakers Limited
- Multi-Media Entertainments Limited
Not all the fines and licence suspensions have occurred for the same reasons. Yet it does make you question whether operators take the licensing rules of the UK serious and it also begs another question. If the increase in penalties since 2017 haven’t worked yet, what will?
Revenue Drops for Most Sectors
The COViD-19 pandemic and resulting lockdowns had a significant impact on many businesses. The gambling industry experienced difficult times – at least in the land-based sector. But it also stopped live sports events from taking place. That, in turn, affected land-based and online sportsbooks. Thus, many gambling businesses suffered large losses in 2020 and beyond. In fact, an 11% decrease in Gross Gambling Yield (GGY) from April 2019 to March 2020 was reported.
The 62.5% decrease in GGY for the land-based sector was most startling. Physical casinos, arcades, bookmakers and bingo halls only made £1.7 billion in that time. It wasn’t so bad for the online gambling scene. Then again, people in lockdown could gamble from their home computer or mobile device.
But the revenue figures are still at a low in 2022. The total GGY in June decreased by 13.2% from the previous month and most sectors experienced declines relating to overall revenue. In fact, when it comes to online gambling, eSports betting was the only exception. This area reported revenue growth of 38.3% for that timeframe.
Yet despite the revenue falls, the Commission has not eased up with its fines. They have been coming at a fast pace, with Petfre (Betfred owner) being the latest recipient. It received a penalty of £2.9 million from the UKGC towards the end of September. The issues? Gambling safety and money laundering failures. It seems like that is a record which is well and truly stuck!