Gambling company William Hill will pay about £19.2 million, equivalent to $23.7 million, in the U.K. Gambling Commission’s largest ever enforcement action, as the regulator presses an aggressive crackdown on anti-money-laundering failures.
Three William Hill units have entered into settlements over alleged anti-money-laundering failures and alleged problems ensuring responsible gambling, the Gambling Commission said Tuesday. William Hill is owned by
PLC, a publicly traded gambling company, following a 2022 acquisition. William Hill’s U.S. operations weren’t part of the transaction.
“The settlement relates to the period when William Hill was under the previous ownership and management,” 888 said in a statement. “After William Hill was acquired, the company quickly addressed the identified issues with the implementation of a rigorous action plan.”
William Hill units that operate online gambling sites will pay most of the settlement amount, about £16.2 million. A William Hill subsidiary that operates about 1,300 retail locations in the U.K. will pay the remainder of the settlement.
The Gambling Commission has mounted a sustained crackdown aimed at regulatory failures, and since the start of 2022 gambling companies have paid more than £76 million in connection with 26 enforcement cases brought by the agency.
“There are indications that the industry is doing more to make gambling safer and reducing the possibility of criminal funds entering their businesses,” said Andrew Rhodes, the commission’s chief executive.
“Operators are using algorithms to spot gambling harms or criminal risk more quickly, interacting with consumers sooner and generally having more effective policies and procedures in place,” he added.
Mr. Rhodes said the Gambling Commission’s investigation into William Hill uncovered “widespread and alarming” failings that led his agency to consider suspending the company’s license. But because William Hill recognized its failings and worked to implement improvements, the commission opted to allow the settlement payment, he said.
Alleged failings the Gambling Commission documented included instances in which William Hill allowed customers to make large deposits without checking into their occupations or sources of the funds.
William Hill’s procedures and controls lacked measures to prevent money laundering through online gaming sites during customer risk profiling, the Gambling Commission said. Additionally, compliance staff working on those sites weren’t provided sufficient information on risks and how to manage them, the agency said.
Last week, the Gambling Commission ordered two gambling companies owned by
PLC to pay a combined £7.2 million in fines over alleged regulatory failures. Kindred said it has taken steps to improve its processes.
Before its settlement with William Hill, the Gambling Commission’s largest enforcement action was a £17 million settlement last year with
PLC, owner of Ladbrokes and other gambling brands.
Write to Richard Vanderford at Richard.Vanderford@wsj.com
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