It should be noted that William Hill was under the ownership of Caesars Entertainment at the time of the regulatory breaches.
The UK regulator has levied another multi-million-pound penalty on a gambling operator for breaching social responsibility regulations.
The Gambling Commission has once again set a new record for penalties by imposing a colossal fine of £19.2m on William Hill, which was acquired by 888 Holdings in 2021. This fine represents the largest ever imposed on a UK gambling operator, surpassing the previous record of £17m, which was levied against Entain in August of last year.
The £19.2m penalty against William Hill was issued for failures in social responsibility and anti-money laundering measures that occurred between May 2020 and October 2021. The announcement of this record-breaking fine comes just days after the Gambling Commission levied penalties totaling £7.1m against Kindred Group for similar regulatory violations.
888 Holdings has responded to the announcement of the £19.2m fine against William Hill, stating that they were already aware of the impending penalty and had accounted for it in their recent trading update. The company emphasized that the breaches occurred before their £2bn acquisition of William Hill and that they have taken steps to improve operations since taking ownership of the brand.
It is worth noting that some of the regulatory violations occurred while William Hill was under the ownership of the US casino giant Caesars, which purchased the company in September 2020. However, following the acquisition, Caesars decided to divest its European assets while retaining the US-facing online sports betting arm.
888 said in a statement: “The settlement relates to the period when William Hill was under the previous ownership and management. After William Hill was acquired, the company quickly addressed the identified issues with the implementation of a rigorous action plan.”
It added: “The entire group shares the Gambling Commission’s commitment to improving compliance standards across the industry and we will continue to work collaboratively with the regulator and other stakeholders to achieve this.”
888 Holdings has faced challenges since its acquisition of William Hill, as it ended 2022 with debts of £1.8bn and reported a 3% decline in revenue to £1.85bn (£1.907bn). Furthermore, the company’s former CEO, Itai Pazner, announced his departure in January amidst revelations of failings related to VIP accounts in the Middle East.
Currently, Chairman Lord Mendelsohn is in the process of seeking a new CEO for 888 Holdings. Despite the challenges faced by the company, it aims to pay off £347m in loans this year.