Major operator Ladbrokes Coral is the latest firm facing a huge payout after an investigation by the Gambling Commission found ‘systemic failings’ in its social responsibility and money laundering controls before it was acquired by GVC.
The regulator has imposed a penalty package consisting of £5.9m payment and a series of improvement measures that must be implemented by new owner GVC.
An investigation by the Gambling Commission found between November 2014 and October 2017 Ladbrokes and Coral failed to put in place effective safeguards to prevent consumers suffering gambling harm and against money laundering, with this failing continuing after their merger as the Ladbrokes Coral Group.
As a result the following occurred:
- Ladbrokes did not carry out any social responsibility interactions with a customer who lost £98,000 over two-and-a-half years, had 460 attempted deposits into their account declined, and even asked the operator to stop sending promotions.
- Despite one customer spending £1.5m over two-years 10 months, Coral did not ask the customer to evidence their source of funds and could not provide evidence of any social responsibility interactions being carried out. During their time with the operator, the customer displayed signs of problem gambling including logging into their account an average of 10 times a day for a month and losing £64,000 in one month alone.
- Ladbrokes could not provide any evidence of carrying out social responsibility interactions with a customer who deposited over £140,000 in the first four months of their account being open.
- Ladbrokes, having identified concerns with a customer, then allowed further significant gambling without taking additional steps to verify the source of funds or consider if the customer could afford to spend and lose that amount of money.
Richard Watson, Commission Executive Director, said: “Decision makers at gambling businesses need to invest in the welfare of their customers and the integrity of money being gambled with.
“These were systemic failings at a large operator which resulted in consumers being harmed and stolen money flowing though the business and this is unacceptable.”
As part of this settlement the Ladbrokes Coral Group’s new owners GVC will pay £4.8m in lieu of a financial penalty and will divest £1.1m gained from customers as a result of its failings. GVC will also review the top 50 customers for the years 2015-2017 to consider whether any further failings can be identified, and if so they will divest themselves of profit accordingly.
GVC has committed to making a number of improvements to the business including overhauling its responsible gaming and customer interaction processes, retraining staff, and hiring new staff.
The Gambling Commission is still making enquiries into the role Personal Management Licence holders played in these failures.