The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has handed Caesars Entertainment a £13m regulatory settlement ‘following a catalogue of social responsibility, money laundering and customer interaction failures’.
The governing body has confirmed that all £13m from the case will be used to support its ‘National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms’.
It comes as part of the UKGC’s stringent stance on anti money laundering failings. Already this year, the gambling sector has paid £27m in penalty packages.
As a result of its investigation, three senior managers at Caesars have surrendered their personal licences, with the UKGC’s investigations into Personal Management Licence holders still ongoing.
The sanction specifically relates to the operator’s treatment and failings in terms of its VIP customers, allowing a customer who had shown signs of problem gambling to lose £323,000 in a year
The operator had also failed to carry out adequate source of funds checks on a customer who was allowed to drop around £3.5m and lose £1.6m over a period of three months. Caesars also failed to obtain adequate evidence of source of funds for a customer who lost a significant amount over a 13-month period.
Neil McArthur, Chief Executive of the Gambling Commission, commented: “We have published this case at this time because it’s vitally important that the lessons are factored into the work the industry is currently doing to address poor practices of VIP management in which we must see rapid progress made.
“The failings in this case are extremely serious. A culture of putting customer safety at the heart of business decisions should be set from the very top of every company and Caesars failed to do this. We will now continue to investigate the individual licence holders involved with the decisions taken in this case.”
The investigation into the land-based casino operator found ‘serious systemic failings in the way the company took decisions about VIP customers between January 2016 and December 2018’.
Issues highlighted in the case included ‘inadequate interaction’ with a customer who was known to have previously self-excluded and lost £240,000 over a 13-month period. Meanwhile, another customer was able to lose £18,000 in a year despite informing staff that they were using borrowed money to gamble.
A further example stipulated concerned inadequate interaction with, and source of funds checks on, a customer who identified as a retired postman and lost £15,000 in 44 days.
McArthur continued: “In recent times the online sector has received the greatest scrutiny around VIP practices but VIP practices are found right across the industry and our tough approach to compliance and enforcement will continue, whether a business is on the high street or online.
“We are absolutely clear about our expectations of operators – whatever type of gambling they offer they must know their customers. They must interact with them and check what they can afford to gamble with – stepping in when they see signs of harm. Consumer safety is non-negotiable.”