Record fine for William Hill Group

By Dave Sawyer, Last updated Jul 1, 2023

Is it a case of “Anything you can do, I can do better”? As the William Hill Group now have the dubious honour of being the recipient of the largest fine handed out by the UK Gambling Commission, with the £19.2m penalty being received eclipsing that of the £17m that Entain, the owners of their bitter High Street rivals were hit with last August.

In the second such high profile regulatory enforcement action taken by the UK’s gambling regulator during the month of March 2023, following closely behind last week’s £7m fine levelled on 32Red owner Kindred, the action taken against William Hill has made the front pages of all UK online news media this morning. With the headline on the BBC news site screaming: “William Hill let customer bet £23,000 in 20 minutes.”

Certainly more needs to be done to protect consumers and the charges against William Hill Group which have warranted this action by the UKGC are very serious, the onus is also on these large operators to ensure they get their collective houses in order. As their failings form a disservice not just for the consumers  that they have been identified as having failed, but for the longevity of the gambling industry within the UK as a whole.

One of the much publicised failings picked up by the Gambling Commission was that of a customer being able to bet and lose over £20,000 over the course of just 20 minutes.  Being allowed to do so without any affordability checks undertaken by the operator beforehand. This just adds more fuel to the fire for the very vocal anti-gambling lobby.

Commenting on the action taken by the Gambling Commission announced earlier this morning, the UKGC’s Chief Executive Andrew Rhodes stated: “When we launched this investigation the failings we uncovered were so widespread and alarming serious consideration was given to licence suspension.”

“However, because the operator immediately recognised their failings and worked with us to swiftly implement improvements, we instead opted for the largest enforcement payment in our history.”

Failings identified by the UKGC include:

  • One person was allowed to open a new account and bet £32,500 over two days without any checks
  • The group failed to identify customers who were at risk of experiencing gambling related harm. In one instance, a customer lost £14,902 in 70 minutes
  • The group failed to apply a 24-hour delay between receiving requests for an increase in a credit limit and granting it. One customer was allowed to place a £100,000 bet immediately, even though he had a £70,000 credit limit
  • Customers were able to place large bets without sufficient checks on the source of the funds being carried out
  • The group failed to ask for source of funds evidence when one customer staked £19,000 in a single bet, and did the same in another case when a punter bet £39,324 and lost £20,360 over 12 days.

A thread has already been started within the Casinomeister forum concerning this news, should you wish to discuss the action taken against William Hill Group by the UKGC, you are able to do so here.

Dave Sawyer

Dave has been involved in the Online Gambling industry for 20 odd years now. With experience working for an operator based in Gibraltar, where he headed up the IT team at Ladbrokes, to running his own iGaming affiliate websites until 2019.

Dave now writes for Casinomeister and sister site Casino Gazette. You may also see him on the forum from time to time, where he goes by the handle Webzcas.

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