Ladbrokes owner fined record £17m for ‘unacceptable failures’

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The Gambling Commission regulator found clients were able to spend hundreds of thousands of pounds online without adequate checks. Its chief executive Andrew Rhodes hit out at “completely unacceptable anti-money laundering and safer gambling failures” by parent firm Entain. The watchdog has warned that if the company breaks the rules again it might lose its licence.

It said Entain had been slow to help customers struggling with debt.

One client was allowed to deposit £742,000 online over 14 months without appropriate checks on the source of the money – while another who was known to live in social housing paid in £186,000 in six months.

Gamblers could create accounts with other sites in the firm, even if they had racked up debt elsewhere.

One online user was blocked from Coral because they had spent £60,000 in 12 months and failed to provide a source of funds but immediately opened an account with Ladbrokes and deposited £30,000 in a day.

Entain was handed a £14million penalty for not meeting licensing standards in its online business LC International, and a £3million fine over its Ladbrokes Betting & Gambling business, which runs around 2,700 outlets.

Mr Rhodes said: “Our investigation revealed serious failures that have resulted in the largest enforcement outcome to date. There were completely unacceptable anti-money laundering and safer gambling failures.

This is the second time this operator has fallen foul of rules.

“We will be monitoring them very carefully. Further serious breaches will make the removal of their licence to operate a very real possibility. Consumers deserve better.”

It is the biggest fine of a gambling firm, beating 2020’s £13million penalty for Caesars Entertainment over a rash of social responsibility, money laundering and customer interaction failures including ones involving VIPs. Entain said it agreed the sum to end the issue and avoid costly legal proceedings and said: “Certain legacy systems and processes supporting the operations of its business during 2019 and 2020 were not in line with the evolving regulatory expectations.”

It added that it had brought in changes. The £17million sum will be directed towards socially responsible purposes, the regulator said.

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