Owner of William Hill 888 set to receive biggest fine ever from gambling watchdog
The owner of William Hill 888 is bracing for the biggest ever fine from Britain’s gambling watchdog in yet another setback for the business.
It has earmarked £15million to cover penalties stemming from an investigation by regulators into its “social responsibility and anti-money laundering obligations”.
But industry sources have told the Mail the figure could be even higher, surpassing the Gambling Commission’s biggest to date, the £17million fine paid by Paddy’s owner Power Flutter last year.
Probe:888 has set aside £15million to cover penalties stemming from an investigation by regulators into its ‘social responsibility and anti-money laundering obligations’
One said it could be ‘north of £20m’. Such a penalty would be a blow to 888, which is set to be relegated from the FTSE 250 this month after seeing its price plummet 85% since September 2021.
888 bought William Hill from US-based Caesars Entertainment last summer in a £2 billion deal.
Approximately £250 million was removed from the price, which 888 said reflected “the change in the macro-economic and regulatory environment” and “compliance factors impacting William Hill’s business”, including the probe.
The commission declined to comment on a potential £888 fine, but the Mail understands a formal announcement is imminent.
Richard Williams, gaming and regulatory partner at Keystone Law, said: ‘It doesn’t look great that companies don’t learn from mistakes, even if the alleged failures are historical and relate to failures that happened. produced when the operator was not the owner of the entity.’
888, which owns online casino, poker and sports betting sites as well as more than 1,000 William Hill stores, is already grappling with other regulatory issues.
Last month, his boss made a shock exit after launching an investigation into suspected money laundering on VIP client accounts in the Middle East.
Chief executive Itai Pazner left after more than two decades, including four years at the top.
888 said it suspended VIP client accounts typically reserved for the wealthiest and most lucrative players after an internal review found best practices were not followed in areas such as anti-money laundering processes silver.
Its VIP accounts generate substantial turnover as high rollers are encouraged to wager huge sums.
Lord Mendelsohn, a Labor peer and chairman of the group, took over day-to-day management until a permanent boss was found.
888 announces its annual results at the end of the month. The industry is also awaiting the gaming white paper, which has been delayed for nearly two years but could mean major changes for the sector, including accessibility controls.
888 shares fell 0.9%, or 0.6p, to 69.65p.