Caesars Entertainment UK forced to pay a record £13 million for VIP scheme failings

Caesars Entertainment UK

Caesars Entertainment’s UK division has been ordered by the UK Gambling Commission  (UKGC) a record £13 million for numerous shortcomings. 

Referred to as “systemic failings” by the UKGC, the penalty relates to not safeguarding players in VIP schemes. “Money laundering failings” were also cited by the commission. 

The sanction eclipses the £11.6 million that Betway had to pay last month, which was the previous record. Three senior managers at Caesars, who have now left the company, have given up their personal gambling operator’s licences due to the investigation.

Multiple players lost significant money 

The investigation looked at a range of incidents that took place between January 2016 and December 2018. 

According to the UKGC’s press release, one customer displayed signs of problem gambling and had 30 sessions exceeding five hours. Over a 12-month period, this individual lost £323,000. 

Caesars was also found guilty of “inadequate interaction” with a user who had self-excluded in the past. This person lost £240,000 in the space of 13 months. 

In another case, somebody who described themselves as a “self-employed nanny” parted ways with £18,000. She had informed staff that “her savings had been spent, and that she was borrowing money from family and using an overdraft facility to fund gambling activities”. 

Money laundering shortcomings 

In terms of money laundering, the UKGC found that one individual was allowed to drop £3.5 million and lose £1.6 million in the space of just four months. This was due to “the operator not carrying out adequate source of funds checks”. 

Elsewhere, another customer defined as a politically-exposed person (PEP) lost £795,000 in 13 months. In this case, Caesars was found to have not checked for a source of funds. 

Other customers lost £240,000 in 13 months, £87,000 in 12 months and £15,000 in the same time period. 

“Extremely serious” failings 

UKGC Chief Executive Neil McArthur has said that the tough approach to online land-based player safety will continue. He also spoke in more depth about Caesars’ actions, with his words being as follows. 

“The failings in this case are extremely serious. A culture of putting customer safety at the heart of business decisions should be set from the very top of every company and Caesars failed to do this. We will now continue to investigate the individual licence holders involved with the decisions taken in this case.

“We are absolutely clear about our expectations of operators – whatever type of gambling they offer they must know their customers. They must interact with them and check what they can afford to gamble with – stepping in when they see signs of harm.  Consumer safety is non-negotiable.”  

The £13 million paid by Caesars will, in the words of the UKGC, “be directed towards delivering the National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms”. 

Meanwhile, Caesars Entertainment UK has acknowledged its shortcomings and accepted the punishment.