888 holdings remain steadfast on their stance regarding the compliance issue that have plagued their acquisition, William Hill UK. Issues that have led to a record breaking fine by the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) for offences that were described as “widespread and alarming”.
Despite these damming events, 888 holdings are adamant that the actions they’ve taken since acquiring the 2 billion pound bookmaker last year have been enough to address the complaints that were levelled against them. The gaming conglomerate pointed to the fact that their takeover terms were agreed with Caesars Entertainment a good month subsequent to the latest offence which received financial penalties. Only completing the deal in April the following year.
While the timeline may look favourably on 888, this is not even the only high profile public failing they have suffered this year. With a series of similar compliance failures making headlines in January involving VIP accounts in the Middle East.
In this damming regulatory turn of events, 888’s operations were found negligible for numerous anti-money laundering and know-your-customer oversights and errors. An incident of adequate severity to see the resignation of Itai Pazner as CEO.
888 still committed to reform?
Despite these, the latest in a slew of failures it must be said, 888 are still holding their position, stressing not only that they are addressing the specifics of the complaints aimed at William Hill, but are committed to aiding the UKGC in strengthening, improving and building new, reformed legislation related to responsibility in UK betting.
This event involving William Hill seems to be not only a record breaking instance but a seminal one at that. With the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) committee in the process of preparing a comprehensive gambling white paper with the aims of reviewing the gambling act of 2005, the legislation that today’s current law stems from.
The whitepaper and legislation that many hope will follow is an issue many in the UK are anxious to have come to fruition. Sir Iain Duncan Smith, the vice-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Gambling-Related Harm, has highlighted the desperate need for the whitepaper.
He explained how the process has been slow and gradual, detailing how the government showed discomfort at tougher regulation, showing great reluctance in many instances:
“We are hearing strong messages that all these things that I’ve talked about – the statutory levy, the affordability checks, hopefully the banning of VIP rooms, all of these things and the powers to the commission and the determination for the commission to use them, I hope will be in the White Paper, in which case then we are at last on our way to getting a better regulated – not over regulated – better regulated gambling industry.”
Regulation regarding advertising is also an issue that requires attention. Protecting those at risk of gambling addiction as well as children from misleading or deceitful advertising must surely be included in the whitepaper and in any regulatory considerations. This is especially important when you include online gambling in the conversation. The ease with which one can begin gambling clicking through an ad is staggering and in many instances can incentivise a gambling problem.
Another shortcoming of the 2005 gambling act is the nature surrounding fines, as well as the lack of communication attached to them. Feedback solicited by the DCMS from gambling operators such as Bet365 and Flutter stated the discontent with such a reluctance to collaborate to improve the industry. As things stand this communication breakdown has led to a system where fines are a regular occurrence and are uncomfortably becoming simply a cost of doing business.