Entain, the gambling firm behind Ladbrokes and Coral, could lose its licence to operate in the UK after it was told to pay a record £17m settlement over its inaction as individual customers spent hundreds of thousands of pounds.
The Gambling Commission highlighted a series of failings in Entain’s online and high street business, all of which took place after the government announced a review of gambling laws that has led the industry to promise to improve controls to tackle addiction and prevent money laundering.
The “completely unacceptable” incidents, which triggered Entain’s second regulatory settlement, included carrying out just one chat interaction with a customer who spent long periods gambling in the middle of the night over 18 months, depositing £230,845.
Another customer who was blocked from betting with Coral over concerns about their betting was allowed to set up another account with a different Entain brand and deposit £30,000 in a day.
A third individual was allowed to deposit £742,000 in 14 months without appropriate checks on what they could afford, while another, who was known to live in social housing, was allowed to deposit £186,000 in six months without sufficient checks.
The incidents took place even as gambling industry lobbyists were pushing back against proposals such as strict affordability checks, claiming the industry was already socially responsible.
A gambling white paper, containing an array of similar reforms aimed at tightening up gambling laws, was due to be published in June but has been delayed, to the dismay of campaigners, while the Tory party chooses a new leader.
The commission’s regulatory settlement with Entain includes terms forcing the company to implement an “improvement plan” to tighten up control designed to prevent money-laundering and tackle gambling addiction.
“This is the second time this operator has fallen foul of rules in place to make gambling safer and crime free,” said the regulator’s chief executive, Andrew Rhodes.
“There were completely unacceptable anti-money laundering and safer gambling failures. Operators are reminded they must never place commercial considerations over compliance.
“They should be aware that we will be monitoring them very carefully and further serious breaches will make the removal of their licence to operate a very real possibility. We expect better and consumers deserve better.”