888 Holdings plc

How many times do we all have to be reminded that “no” means no? It looks as though the UK Gambling Commission means business related to the issue of protecting vulnerable problem gamblers. As a result, 888 Holdings has been fined approximately $10.0 million USD for accepting large deposits from players who had previously asked and signed to be prevented from accessing specific sites for gaming purposes.

According to guidelines set forth by the UK Gambling commission, any online gambler has the right to request “self-exclusion.” The purpose of this rule is to allow problem gamblers to seek help from the gaming sites where they often visit and lose large chunks of money. The self-exclusion is usually dictated for a specified period of time. It can also be irrevocable.

According to information released by the UK Gambling Commission, the Gibraltar-based 888 Holdings Inc. failed to prevent as many as 7,000 self-excluded gamblers from depositing money and gambling between the months of October 2015 and September 2016. 888 Holdings operates numerous online casino, bingo and poker sites currently operating all over the world.

Based on information released by the government agency, “The issue went undetected for a prolonged period of time, meaning customers were able to deposit £3.5 million into their accounts, and then continue to gamble, for over 13 months.” In the gambling provider’s defense, 888 said it never intended to “benefit financially” from its failure to detect a glitch in its system.

According to the established guidelines, gaming providers also have a responsibility to identify potential problems gamblers and seek to offer them help. Part of the $10.0 million fine was levied because the commission found instances where problematic behavior was allowed to continue unnoticed and unchecked. Specifically, one player, who gambled almost four hours a day for a year, was found to have embezzled £55,000 from their employer, using the funds to gamble on a 888 gaming site.

“The lack of interaction with the customer, given the frequency, duration and sums of money involved in the gambling, raised serious concerns about 888’s safeguarding of customers at-risk of gambling harm,” the Commission noted through its spokesman. They record amount of the fine will hopefully serve notice to all gaming providers that the self-exclusion rule needs to be taken seriously.

It’s worth noting that the Commission did give 888 Holdings a big thumbs up for the way they dealt with the issue when confronted: “888 was frank and cooperative during the licensing review process. Following the investigation, we are also of the view that 888 has recognized its failings and has gone to significant lengths to address the concerns raised to prevent these issues happening again. We consider that this case provides valuable learning for both online and retail operators.”

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