Hell hath no fury like the UK Gambling Commission scorned. Just ask UK bookmaker Ladbrokes Coral. The local sportsbook operator has been fined a whopping £5.9 million for not ensuring adequate consumer protection policies were in place. Money laundering, or at least not doing nearly enough to curb dirty financial deals, also apparently counts among the operator’s many sins.
The damning evidence brought against the bookmaker involves the case of a customer who discovered that she was £98,000 out of pocket. The customer had repeatedly requested that the operator cease sending promotional offers her way, as she struggled to resist the temptation. Obviously wise to her own weaknesses she had acted pro-actively, but it turned out to be all for nought as her requests were ignored.
On Going Missteps
All indications are that the above account was no isolated incident. Ladbrokes Coral’s supposed misdemeanours span the period from November 2014 to October 2017, with the above-mentioned example being one of the more serious allegations.
Other instances included allowing a new customer to deposit over £140,000 within the first 4 months of opening an account. There was also a failure to investigate problem gambling behaviour when a customer was logging in up to 10 times a day and lost £64,000 in a single month. Continuing to send promotional material to those who had opted out seemed to be a common trend too, and ignoring self-imposed restriction limits set by customers was another.
Ladbrokes Coral’s actions were described as “systematic failings” that put vulnerable customers at risk, and they willingly opened the gates for illegal money to flow in and out without any questions.
The UK Gambling Commission has since dished out the penalty, and said that the punishment fit the crime because the operator had failed dismally to carry out “social interaction responsibilities”. It’s the 4th such fine issued in as many months to sportsbooks operating in the UK region, and it is also the largest to date. However, it is the first for GVC Holdings, who acquired the Ladbrokes Coral brand for £3.2bn in 2018, and will now have to pay out for historic compliance transgressions.
Committed To Keeping Punters Safe
According to Richard Watson, Executive Director of the UKCG, the issue is not so much the fact that Ladbrokes Coral allowed the player to deposit such a huge amount of money, but instead, it’s the fact that the operator never once demanded any form of proof as to where the funds were coming from. The UKGC is adamant the bookmaker should have questioned how the player managed to generate such a large a sum of money for betting purposes and queried the source of funds before accepting any bets.
Failing to determine the source of monetary resources is the very backbone of the money laundering movement. For as long as casinos and sports betting operators continue to look the other way, money laundering will prevail. Proper controls and restrictions can however can curb it dramatically, and it is up to operators to remain vigilant at all times.
Part of the fine imposed on Ladbrokes Coral will be put towards responsible gambling causes, and £1.1 million will be forfeited to the “affected parties”. As part of the penalty agreement the bookmaker will also review its top 50 customers over the 2015-2017 period to determine if there were any failings they may have missed, and these will need to be addressed too.
All of the above considered, it can be argued that the bookmaker did not end up with too poor a deal. If anything, it’s a lesson well learnt. It shows just how on the ball the UKGC is, and how intent they are in ensuring a safe and responsible gambling and sports betting experience is available for all.