Entain Could Lose Licence Amidst Record NZ$ 32,6m Fine
The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has fined Entain Group a record high £ 17 million (NZ$ 32,6m). The operator behind Bwin, Ladbrokes, and PartyCasino was fined for responsible gaming and anti-money laundering failures in the UK.
UK Gambling Commission CEO Andrew Rhodes said Entain could potentially lose their licence if the group continues to breach rules and regulations in the market. Rhodes underlines that it’s not the first time the group has failed to meet the country’s laws. He warns that Entain will be closely monitored in the coming months.
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UKGC’s Largest Fine To Date
One of the largest gambling companies in the world, Entain has been ordered to pay a £ 14 million (NZ$ 26,8m) fine over the failures of LC International Limited, an Entain holding company behind 13 websites operated in the UK, including international platforms such as Bwin, Ladbrokes, Coral, Sportingbet, and poker site partypoker.
In addition, Entain has to pay a £ 3 million (NZ$ 5,76m) fine because the land based activities of Entain have also failed to comply with anti-money laundering and responsible gaming guidelines. Ladbrokes Betting & Gaming Limited operates 2,746 physical betting shops across the UK.
The total amount obtained with the fine by the gambling watchdog will be used for community service projects, in accordance with the Gambling Act 2005. Andrew Rhodes, UKGC’s CEO speaks out about the hefty fine on the authority’s website:
“Our investigation has revealed serious failures that led to the largest fine to date. There have been unacceptable shortcomings by Entain Group in both money laundering and safer gambling related policies. Operators are reminded never to put commercial goals above those of compliance.”
Andrew Rhodes, General Manager UK Gambling Commission
Entain Kept Under Close Monitoring
Rhodes emphasises that it is the second time that Entain fails to comply with the country’s regulations. He therefore calls it a possible and even a realistic scenario that the operator’s licence could be revoked in the event of further serious violations. Despite the previous breach, the British regulatory authority determined not to suspend or cancel Entain’s current licence Entain, but instead warns that the company will be kept under close monitoring. In previous events, Entain was fined for slow or even a lack of interaction with customers who were known as problem gamblers:
- Players who had set account limits with one of the licensee’s brands could easily open a new account with another brand of the same licensee. One player was blocked by Coral for spending £ 60,000 (NZ$ 115,2m) in a year without being able to provide an income statement, but was still able to create an account with Ladbrokes and deposit £ 30,000 (NZ$ 57,600) in a single day.
- A customer in a brick and mortar store wagered more than £29,000 (NZ$ 55.6m) in a month and lost a total of over £ 11,000 (NZ$ 21,100). The player was not contacted by the company’s representatives to evaluate his gambling behaviour.
- Employees were badly supervised and failed to escalate potential customer issues in a timely manner. For example, no alarms went off when a delivery person lost £ 17,000 (NZ$ 32,6m) in a timespan of a year. Another player was able to wager more than £ 173,000 (NZ$ 332,1m) and lose over £ 27,000 (NZ$ 51,840) without any intervention on behalf of the online casino.
In addition, the UKGC discovered what they labelled as “serious UK anti-money laundering offences” by Entain with several players able to deposit large amounts without a need to provide income statements. A player that lived in social housing was able to deposit a total amount of £ 186,000 (NZ$ 357,16m) without any further KYC and AML processes. The gambling company also allowed an online customer to deposit more than £ 524,000 (NZ$ 1,0 million) between December 2019 and October 2020.
UKGC Introduces Tighter Rules
In recent months, the British regulatory watchdog has shown to be stricter with their gambling licencees introducing tighter rules. In early August, Swedish online casino LeoVegas was fined £ 1,2 million (NZ$ 2,3 m) for negligence on responsible gaming and anti-money laundering. In addition to the fine, LeoVegas also received an official warning from the UKGC. 888 is one of the other gambling giants that was also fined for similar violations. In March 2022, the UKGC fined the Malta based company £ 9.4 million (NZ$ 18,0m). The gambling operator is also subject to an additional audit by the Gambling Commission.
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Entain Acquires Croatian Bookmaker SuperSport
Amidst the turmoil of events, Entain announced that it is going to acquire the Croatian bookmaker SuperSport. The acquisition involves an amount of € 800 million (NZ$ 1,292m). Depending on SuperSport performances in the coming months, a total amount of € 120 million can be added to this initial figure. During the presentation of the interim results announcing the acquisition of SuperSport, Entain did not bring up the fine to their stockholders. Entain plc is a FTSE 100 company that is known as one of the world’s largest sports betting and gaming groups operating in both the online and retail sector.