888 Hit with Millions in Penalties

If you enjoy gambling online, then you're probably aware that there are typically settings for those who feel they may be at risk for problem gambling, or simply want to prevent themselves from getting to that point. Sites implement optional breaks in which members are temporarily barred from using their accounts in an effort to demonstrate a commitment to social responsibility. However, it was recently discovered that the 888 firm, while providing this option to players, was not holding up their end of the bargain due to a supposed technical malfunction.

More specifically, the company allowed 7,000 customers to continue to gamble, after taking advantage of the opportunity to provisionally lock themselves out of their account—a situation which The Gambling Commission believes represents, "significant flaws" in the brand's efforts toward social responsibility.

Adding more fuel to an already bad situation, it was further uncovered that one customer was able to spend over £1.3 million over the course of 13 months, which included £55,000 in stolen funds from their employer, before being pegged as a problem gambler.

According to The Gambling Commission, "the lack of interaction with the customer, given the frequency, duration and sums of money involved in the gambling, raised serious concerns about 888's safeguarding of customers at-risk of gambling harm."

As a result of the brand's failure to appropriately address these issues, it is being fined a record penalty of £7.8 million. A total of £62,000 from this fee will go to the employer who had their money stolen. A separate £4.25m will go to a cause which aids in addressing and preventing problem gambling. £3.5m will also go toward repaying deposits made by those customers who opted to temporarily refrain from play.

Chief executive for the Gambling Commission, Sarah Harrison, told the BBC, "Our requirements are that every company must provide the facility for every customer to be able to bar themselves from gambling. These 7,000 looked to do that. But 888 didn't deliver it as effectively as they should have done."

Harrison added, "There are around two million people now in Britain who either are problem gamblers or are at risk of problem gambling. Companies are beginning to put different practices in place to identify people right up front, but more needs to be done. We need to go further and we need to go faster."

Source: "Online gambling firm 888 hit with record £7.8m penalty' BBC. August 31, 2017.

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