Entain Plc has been sanctioned with a £17m penalty over social responsibility and AML failures across its online and retail businesses.
Off the back of the sanctions, the UKGC detailed that Entain had been placed under enhanced licence conditions, in which its board must oversee an ‘improvement plan’.
The Commission revealed significant AML failings that included “allowing online customers to deposit large amounts without carrying out sufficient Source of Funding (SOF) checks – one player was allowed to deposit £742,000 in 14 months without appropriate SOF checks”.
Further AML incidents saw one online customer allowed to deposit £524,000 between December 2019 and October 2020 before his account was closed for failing to supply SOF evidence.
The commission stated that Entain subsidiaries had placed an ‘excessive reliance on open-source information’. A further incident pointed to a customer that had deposited £140,000 in a 10-month period but only had one SOF interaction.
Meanwhile, a Ladbrokes betting shop had a customer who staked a total of £168,000 on shop terminals over eight months before the staff carried out due diligence.
Social responsibility discrepancies included Entain being slow to interact and engage with customers experiencing gambling harms.
It was revealed that an Entain online gambling brand had conducted only one safer gambling interaction with a customer who spent extended periods gambling overnight during an 18-month period in which they deposited £230,000.
Compliance failings revealed that Entain had allowed customers barred with one group brand to open an account with another. According to the statement “one online customer who was blocked with Coral because they had spent £60,000 in 12 months and failed to provide Source of Funds (SOF) was immediately able to open an account with Ladbrokes and deposit £30,000 in a single day”.
Staff at Ladbrokes retail units had reportedly failed to escalate and engage with problem gambling concerns, such as in the case of a delivery driver who lost £17,000 in one year.
Andrew Rhodes, Gambling Commission Chief Executive, said: “Our investigation revealed serious failures that have resulted in the largest enforcement outcome todate.
“There were completely unacceptable anti-money laundering and safer gambling failures. Operators are reminded they must never place commercial considerations over compliance.
“This is the second time this operator has fallen foul of rules in place to make gambling safer and crime-free.
“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.”
Following the decision of the UKGC to issue the largest sanction to date, Entain has confirmed that it will appoint a Board sponsor to oversee the implementation of ‘any further improvements identified by the original 2020 compliance assessments’ and an independent audit of policies and procedures.
Detailing steps that have already been taken to improve the firm’s social responsibility, Entain’s statement explained: “In 2021 Entain launched its Advanced Responsibility and Care (ARC) programme which, using revolutionary AI technology, operates in real-time and is individually tailored for each customer.
“The initial trials of ARC in the UK have shown a risk assessment accuracy of over 80%, a 120% uplift in the use of safer gambling tools by those most at risk, and a 30% overall reduction in customers increasing their risk levels.
“Furthermore, in May of this year Entain was awarded the Advanced Safer Gambling Standard by GamCare, having evidenced the highest standards of player protection and social responsibility for its online and land-based gambling businesses in Great Britain.”