The United Kingdom Gambling Commission has recently fined the Rank Group £500,000, after an investigation found that the operator was failing to protect problem gamblers.
The UKGC took interest in the operator after a single customer at Grosvenor Casino lost a staggering £1m in just 24 hours. While it’s not clear how the Gambling Commission were notified of the loss, Richard Watson, the Executive Director said: “We expect all operators to protect any consumer who may be experiencing problems with their gambling and operators shouldn’t fall into the trap of thinking that VIP customers don’t experience difficulties.”
The problems with the Rank Group – and the reason for the fine – was all to do with the operator failing to adhere to rules surrounding credit and self-exclusion measures.
While the customer didn’t reside in the United Kingdom, the Commission still took interest in the case, due to the fact that Grosvenor Casino is licensed in the UK, and subsequently needs to adhere to rules set out by them.
This specific case found that the customer in question had self-excluded himself back in 2016 for a minimum period of 6 months. During this self-exclusion period, Grosvenor Casino were found to have sent a manager to the man’s house – presumably to encourage him to return to the casino.
(Rank Group have described the customer as a long-standing one, and he is said to have an extremely high net worth – so while home visits may sound bizarre at first, it’s likely he was used to such visits, as some sort of VIP.)
After concluding that Rank Group had failed to protect the man from gambling – despite him having taken positive steps to limit and even stop his gambling – the Gambling Commission decided the fine was appropriate, on the grounds that the operator had failed to have sufficient checks and safeguards in place.
Continuing, Watson said: “No matter how wealthy customers are, operators still need to monitor them effectively to ensure they aren’t showing signs of problem gambling. It is certainly not appropriate to visit customers during a period when they are self-excluded.
“This penalty package would have been a lot higher were it not for the positive action Rank took in terms of self-reporting their failures and being open and transparent during our investigation.”
Since the fine was announced, Rank Group have admitted that they could have done better in this specific case, and they’ve also admitted that there were significant weaknesses in their system, in regards to the specific customer in question.
While £500,000 is – obviously – a significant fine, it’s on the smaller end of fines we’ve seen dished out by the UKGC recently, so Rank Group may consider themselves lucky that it wasn’t higher.
Other operators are also likely to use this case as a chance to reflect upon their own responsible gambling systems and procedures – and one of the big takeaways the Commission has recommended operators remember, is that there MUST be sufficient procedures in place to identify and prevent problem gambling, where possible.