William Hill may be a little too relaxed as it waits for 888 Holdings to complete its purchase of the company’s non-US assets from Caesars Entertainment. The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) could fine the operator following the discovery that it submitted inaccurate data to the regulator. Because of the error, the commission stated that it would re-analyze data related to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic upon betting habits.
William Hill Off the Regulatory Path
During the COVID-19 pandemic and the various lockdowns that ensued, the UKGC published regular updates on the losses of customers at big gaming companies, such as William Hill. The updates were in response to concerns that the lockdowns might encourage people to gamble too much online.
The regulator published an update on December 13 that stated it found William Hill had provided “incorrect data points” in the 16-month period between March 2020 and September 2021, according to a report by The Guardian.
The UKGC stated that it would re-analyze all of its data following the update. However, it will not be able to publish the correct information until February. It is also reviewing any regulatory consequences of William Hill’s inaccuracy.
The UKGC relies on submissions from companies with at least 80% of the UK’s market to produce statistical bulletins during the pandemic. These bulletins are a valuable resource for academics as well as health workers. They attempt to evaluate the impact of problem gambling on human health.
Not A First for William Hill
Although it’s unlikely that William Hill would see its license suspended or revoked, there is a possibility of a financial settlement with the company. This is because William Hill has violated the rules for gambling businesses in the UK, and elsewhere, in the past.
In February 2020, William Hill’s Mr Green subsidiary was fined £3 million ($4 million) for “systemic failures. It has also been fined in Denmark and Sweden for not adhering to anti-money-laundering protocols.
888 Holdings announced in December that the complete takeover of non-US assets at William Hill International would occur during the second quarter of 2022. This is in contrast to the previously announced Q1 date. The company will also publish a combined prospectus and circular for the acquisition and capital raising during Q2.
According to William Hill, the capital raise will generate approximately £500 million ($674 million) in gross proceeds through the issuing of new equity. It is expected that it will be completed prior to the William Hill takeover.