Mr Green, who were acquired by William Hill for £242 million in 2019, have been ordered to pay £3 million to the National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms which provides treatment and support for gambling addicts. The penalty was issued after the operator was found to be failing in preventing harm and detecting potential money laundering. The fine was issued by the regulatory body the UKGC (United Kingdom Gambling Commission).
Following an investigation, the UKGC found that, between 1st of November 2014 and 7th of November 2018, Mr Green was lacking in social responsibility and anti-money laundering (AML) controls, something which the online gambling operator have accepted was the case prior to their William Hill takeover.
Mr Green Did Not Intervene As Expected
On top of this, the UKGC also found that customers were able to gamble significant amounts of money without adequate Enhanced Due Diligence (EDD) and Source of Funds (SOF) checks being undertaken. As many as 113 of 120 existing Mr Green customers have seen their accounts closed because they failed to pass Mr Green’s AML checks.
The upshot was that the William Hill owned brand did not always sufficiently identify and intervene with customers when they were displaying symptoms of problem gambling. In some cases, even if alarm bells did ring on an account, the firm failed to initiate an intervention. When interventions did occur, these were not always recorded as they should have been.
As such, the UKGC charge sheet directed at Mr Green suggests that the firm did not step in when a customer won and lost £50,000 prior to depositing and losing thousands more, accepted decades old evidence of a £176,000 claims payout as satisfactory proof of funds for a customer who deposited more than £1 million, as required by law, and also accepted a photograph of a laptop screen showing currency in dollars on a crypto currency trading account as adequate proof of their source of cash.
By law, gambling firms are required to check customers’ source of funds to make certain that they are not involved in money laundering or betting more than they can afford, a sure sign of possible gambling addiction.
Gambling Commission Executive Director Richard Watson said;
“Our investigation uncovered systemic failings in respect of both Mr Green’s 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.”
Mr Green said that the failings took place before they were taken under the wing by William Hill and have now been addressed by the introduction of new processes.
Highest In The World
The fine comes just a day after the industry’s trade body declared that it wanted to make British standards the highest anywhere in the world. This penalty was also issued on the very same day that Flutter Entertainment, the parent company of Paddy Power Betfair admitted that it was suffering revenue issues due to the introduction of new measures designed to reduce problem gambling.
Paddy Power have themselves been hit with a UKGC fine along with William Hill, Ladbrokes Coral, 888 Holdings and Sky Bet as part of a probe by the Gambling Commission into safeguarding failures by online casinos along with poorly implemented measures to prevent money laundering. Nine firms have now been hit in total with £20 million raked back for gambling charity purposes.