UKGC Slaps Entain with Record £17M AML and Social Responsibility Fine

Respected entertainment and gambling behemoth Entain Group has been fined the eye-watering £17 million (approximately $20.60 million) with the UK Gambling Commission citing a number of social responsibility and anti-money laundering breaches and shortcomings. The financial penalty refers to issues with both the company’s land-based and interactive business operations. In an official published on the Group’s official page, Entain said:

Entain accepts that certain legacy systems and processes supporting the operations of its British business during 2019 and 2020 were not in line with the evolving regulatory expectations of the Commission in respect to aspects of social responsibility and anti-money laundering (“AML”) safeguards.

Entain Group

Entain’s Land-Based and Online Businesses Both Targeted by UKGC

Entain will face a penalty amounting to £14 million ($16.92 million) for failures committed by LC International Limited, the Group’s online business, which operates 13 brands. The remainder of the penalty, £3 million ($3.68 million) has been awarded to Ladbrokes Betting & Gaming Limited, which operates 2,746 gambling facilities. The regulator has also tied the penalty with several license conditions that the Group will now have to meet.

The UKGC has offered a detailed breakdown of the transgressions that Entain committed, such as but not limited to slow interaction with particular customers. In some cases, there was no interaction at all, the regulator explained. According to the UKGC, this prevented the company from properly intervening and helping minimize risky gambling behavior.

In one of the cited cases, the UKGC said that an Entain brand only interacted once with a customer who spent 18 months playing and deposited a total of £230,845 (approximately $280,000). Another pressing matter according to the regulator was the fact that customers who were subject to inquiries and restrictions were nevertheless allowed to open multiple accounts across Entain’s group of operators.

Even though a customer was blocked to play at Coral where he deposited £60,000 ($72,520) in a 12-month period but refused to provide a source of funds was then allowed to play at Ladbrokes, where they deposited £30,000 ($36,260) on the same day.

There were more shortcomings, involving the brick-and-mortar business as well. The company saw local staff and area managers failing to escalate potential concerns about customers. At least two customers who were most likely not able to afford the amounts they spent ended up losing £17,000 and £27,753.

The regulator proceeded to outline further issues that it established were a problem, including anti-money laundering and proper risk assessment of the sources of funds. The regulated noted that Entain failed to properly assess whether there was a risk of their business “being used for money laundering and terrorist financing.”

UKGC Boss Criticizes the Failures the Regulator Discovered

As noted, source of funds checks was another issue. One customer was allowed to place £742,000 ($898,730) in 14 months whereas another made deposits up to £186,000 ($224,800) in six months. In both cases, there were no source of revenues. The regulator outlined further failures, arguing that an online customer has been allowed to deposit £524,501 ($635,290) between December 2019 and October 2020.

More failures were noted by the regulator, particularly with the lack of enhanced customer due diligence checks. This is the biggest penalty issued to a company in the regulated gambling landscape, Andrew Rhodes, UKGC chief executive said. The executive blasted Entain for “unacceptable practices.”

“There were completely unacceptable anti-money laundering and safer gambling failures. Operators are reminded they must never place commercial considerations over compliance,” Rhodes explained. Rhodes said that Entain will be monitored closely and any further breaches will lead to possible license removal – a “very real possibility,” he concluded.

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