Gambling firm Betway slapped with £11.6M fine for accepting stolen money
Online gambling firm Betway has been slapped with a hefty fine of £11.6 million for accepting stolen money, a move representing Gambling Commission’s increasing pressure on the industry to do more to defend customers.
An investigation by the Gambling Commission revealed that Betway operators allowed an amount of £5.8 million to flow freely through its business. The watchdog suspected that the amount was most probably proceeds of some type of crime.
Announcing the hefty fine, the Gambling Commission’s Executive Director Richard Watson said in a statement that they found the gambling firm showed no regard for the welfare of its customers.
Deriding the gambling firm, Watson said, “The actions of Betway suggest there was little regard for the welfare of its VIP customers or the impact on those around them.”
Watson added that the watchdog had set very tight deadlines for Betway to amend its business practices and that they should see progress soon, failing which they would have no option but to take further, stricter action.
In the investigation, the regulators found that one “VIP” customer made a deposit of more than £8 million in his Betway account and lost more than £4 million over a period of four years. Another customer suffered a loss of £187,000 in just a couple of days after the gambling firm failed to perform adequate checks,
Regulators stressed that online gambling firms must immediately stop using ‘cynical’ tactics to lure VIP customers to gamble more and more. Betway and other online gambling firms make widespread use of so-called VIP schemes to make sure that those who gamble big amounts keep betting. They are offered attractive bonuses to make more and more bets. In many cases, customers may have been suffering a gambling problem and in many cases they resort to stolen money to fund their habits.
Meanwhile, various campaign groups have started urging the regulators to suspend Betway’s online gambling licence. Adam Bradford, the director of the Safer Online Gambling Group, alleged that betway-like gambling firms’ systemic failures in protecting customers could not be allowed to continue at any cost. A further investigation into the betway case is still pending.
Betway’s fine represents the largest penalty against a gambling firm ever imposed by the regulators in the United Kingdom. It has been announced at a time when the regulators are directly or indirectly forcing the online gambling firms to ensure protection of their customers.