Mr Green, the online bookmaker and casino platform, has been fined an extraordinary £3 million by the UK Gambling Commission for a series of regulatory breaches – one of the heaviest punishments ever handed out in the industry.
The brand, which was acquired by William Hill in 2019, were found guilty of not doing enough to prevent the harm caused by problem gambling, and also for not implementing measures that minimise the risk of them being used as a money laundering outlet.
The breaches were recorded before Mr Green was taken over by William Hill, and a number of questionable practices were noted by the Gambling Commission.
The first saw one customer win more than £50,000 from his wagering, before gambling it all back with the firm and then depositing thousands more to chase up his losses. That is a clear breach of the Commission’s guidance on socially responsible gambling.
The UKGC also reported an incident in which they accepted proof of funds from one customer that amounted to a £176,000 claims payout dating back more than ten years. The individual went on to deposit more than £1 million during his time with Mr Green.
And another punter sent over a computer screenshot of a crypto trading account as his or her proof of funds – which couldn’t have been accurately verified by the brand.
The executive director of the Gambling Commission, Richard Watson, said:
“Our investigation uncovered systemic failings in respect of both Mr Green’s social responsibility and AML [anti-money laundering] controls which affected a significant number of customers across its online casinos.
“Consumers in Britain have the right to know that there are checks and balances in place which will help keep them safe and ensure gambling is crime-free – and we will continue to crack down on operators who fail in this area.”
The £3 million fine levied from Mr Green will be paid towards the National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms fund, which has benefitted to the tune of £20 million from Gambling Commission investigations into nine betting firms since 2018.
There have been many other substantial fines dished out as the UKGC looks to crack down on brands that aren’t doing enough to protect the welfare of their customers.
In July 2019, GVC Holdings – the owner of Ladbrokes and Coral – was fined some £5.9 million for failing to put effective safeguards in place that are designed to protect vulnerable customers.
One punter with the collective lost almost £100,000 in bets over a sustained period, and complained after continuing to receive promotional content despite closing his account. This scenario unfolded before Coral was acquired by GVC Holdings.
The largest fine ever handed out went to 888, who were forced to pay an eye-watering £7.8 million in August 2017, again as a consequence of inappropriate handling of its vulnerable customers.
Daub Alderney, an operator that owns a number of online casino brands, received a £7.1 million fine in November 2018 for failing to effectively counteract money laundering, and William Hill themselves received a £6 million penalty back in February 2018 for failure to protect customers’ welfare.