The British-based and Israeli-controlled online gaming firm 888 Holdings has been slapped with a record fine of more than 7.8 million pounds ($10 million) for failing to bar gamblers who had asked to be blocked from further betting on 888 online sites, according to a number of media outlets
The British Gambling Commission said it discovered flaws in 888's procedures that permitted 7,000 customers who had asked be excluded from access to the sites to deposit 3.5 million pounds ($4.5 million pounds) on account with 888 despite their requests to be denied access. The deposits resulted in nearly 51 million pounds (nearly $66 million) in deposits and recycled winnings, the Guardian newspaper's website reported. The wagering firm said it was never its intention to benefit financially from the mishap, the Guardian added.
The option of asking to be excluded is made available to gamblers who wish to curb their wagering activities, yet 888 “failed to recognize visible signs of problem gambling behavior displayed by [one] customer, which was so significant that it resulted in criminal activity,” the commission found, according to the Financial Times.
As the Guardian recounted it: "The customer staked more than 1.3 million pounds, including 55,000 pounds stolen from their employer during a 13-month binge that saw them gamble on average for three to four hours a day, placing more than 850,000 bets."
The Financial Times said 888, which was founded by Israelis Avi and Aaron Shaked and Shay and Ron Ben-Yitzhak and is now controlled by Shaked-affiliated trusts and Shay Ben-Yitzhak, is one of the U.K. largest online betting groups. It reportedly reached a voluntary settlement with the Gambling Commission and accepted the commission's conclusions.
“Safeguarding consumers is not optional. This penalty package of just under 8 million pounds reflects the seriousness of 888’s failings to protect vulnerable customers,” Sarah Harrison, chief executive at the Gambling Commission, said. A 4.25 million pound ($5.5 million) portion of the penalty that 888 is paying is to go to combat gambling abuse.