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William Hill fine exposes regulatory weaknesses

William Hill fine highlights worrying gambling trend

Although 888 (the new owners of William Hill’s Non-American assets) has agreed to pay the £19.2 million fine issued by the UK Gambling Commission, but it highlights an underlying weakness in iGaming regulation, a top lawyer says.

The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) on Tuesday imposed the record fine on William Hill for inadequate consumer protection measures and weak anti-money laundering controls. The wrongdoing was deemed so severe and widespread that the regulator even considered revoking the company’s license.

The commission discovered a compliance failure where a new customer was permitted to spend £23,000 in just 20 minutes without any verification checks. Another instance highlighted a betting shop customer who incurred losses of £54,252 over four weeks, but the operator failed to conduct appropriate financial checks.

According to the CEO of UKGC, Andrew Rhodes, the regulator “opted for the largest enforcement payment in its history” against William Hill, despite the operator’s prompt recognition of its deficiencies and cooperation with the regulator to implement corrective measures.

The fines were issued separately against three divisions of William Hill, which is owned by online gaming group 888: £12.5 million for William Hill’s online operation, £3.7 million for its sister site Mr Green, and £3 million for the division responsible for William Hill’s 1,344 betting shops.

However, according to the data, William Hill’s neglect of player safety resulted in a temporary increase in customer spending, a development which Keystone Law regulatory lawyer, Richard Williams, said sets a dangerous precedent.

According to Williams, “Implementing rigorous anti-money laundering and social responsibility procedures is likely to slow down customer spending and ultimately reduce revenue for the combined business.”

The statement is a risky one in the wider industry since it implies that profits can be increased by disregarding player safety and AML measures. Williams warns that if the regulators continue to neglect their responsibilities, it is probable that systemic violations will become the standard.

William Hill is one of the largest sports betting and online casino companies in the world, with an outstanding reputation among players.

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