The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) is slapping Betway, an online gambling operators, with a record £11.6 million ($14.6 million USD) fine for a series of compliance failures that included accepting funds from dubious sources. It’s not the UKGC’s first multi-million dollar fine but it does show, once again, that the Commission is very serious about making sure that gambling operators play by the rules.
Betway’s problems with the UKGC stem from their dealings with seven specific customers whose deposits may have included money that didn’t actually belong to them. In particular, Betway took action from a player who deposited £8 million ($10 million USD) over a period of four years. That same player was sometimes allowed to merely verbally confirm the source of his funds with no paper trail of any kind. When Betway executives were made aware of the situation he was still allowed to play. A police inquiry eventually was the last straw for the company who then banned the player.
The company also took action from players who were on their self-exclusion list including one with 11 different accounts under the same name. In its report on the matter, the UKGC said, “Betway could not provide evidence of any social responsibility interactions being carried out with this customer.”
Labour MP Carolyn Harris piled on Betway in a statement to the Guardian saying, “Just how exploitative has a gambling company got to be before the Gambling Commission suspends their licence? Betway’s fine for calculated and deliberate manipulation of VIP customers is paltry in comparison with the damage they will have caused to those caught in the web of VIP inducements. The industry is morally bankrupt, the Gambling Commission is complicit and both should be concerned that their ability to operate in this way is fast coming to an end.”
Betway’s fine, which is the largest ever doled out by the Commission will be split up between a fund that helps victims of crimes committed by its customers and a separate fund aimed at reducing problem gambling.