£6m fine for betting company that failed on social responsibility

William Hill has been fined in excess of £6 million for failing to spot money laundering and for breaching social responsibility rules.

The Gambling Commission rebuked William Hill for its actions, which included allowing customers to deposit hundreds of thousands of pounds with only limited checks.

However, a business commentator noted that the fine only “amounts to what the company made in about a week”.

Criminal offences

The Gambling Commission said it fined William Hill for errors between November 2014 and August 2016.

Due to a lack of staff monitoring the company’s “anti-money laundering and social responsibility processes”, ten gamblers were allowed to “deposit large sums of money linked to criminal offences”, the Commission said.

This resulted in gains for the William Hill group of around £1.2m – money it will now have to “divest”.

Half a million pounds

During the period, one punter deposited more than half a million pounds “without source of funds checks being carried out”.

Another customer was identified by the betting company as having “escalating gambling spend” but after a conversation where the individual said they were “comfortable with their level of spend”, they were allowed to continue.

A third punter deposited £147,000 in an 18-month period and saw increasing losses. Systems “identified the issue” but the William Hill group only sent “two automated social responsibility emails”.


Gambling Commission Executive Director Tim Miller said the fine was a message to whole industry, and added: “I don’t think this will be the last action we take”.

However, The Independent’s Chief Business Commentator James Moore noted the fine was “small change to a business the size of Hill’s”.

“A good day or two at the Cheltenham Festival and it’s forgotten about.”

‘Destroying my life’

In a statement, William Hill’s Chief Executive Philip Bowcock said it had introduced new policies and was working to change.

“We are fully committed to operating a sustainable business that properly identifies risk and better protects customers.”

Last year, gambling addicts spoke about the toll of online betting – with one person saying they had lost £12,000 in one night playing poker.

Another said his wages went towards online gambling “every month”, adding: “It was destroying my life and the people I cared about most around me.”

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