By swimalot, Nov 10 2017 01:34AM
by Jon Yeomans
31 AUGUST 2017 • 7:32AM
888, one of the UK’s biggest gambling companies, has been fined a record £7.8m for allowing 7,000 vulnerable customers who had taken a “time out” to continue playing.
An investigation by the Gambling Commission found that a “technical failure” in 888’s systems allowed players who had “self-excluded” from the company’s casino, poker and sport games to continue to access their accounts on the bingo platform.
The oversight continued for 13 months, allowing those customers to deposit up to £3.5m in their accounts.
“While 888 did have self-exclusion procedures in place, they were not robust enough and failed to protect potentially vulnerable customers,” the Commission said.
888 also failed to “recognise visible signs of problem gambling behaviour” in one individual, who staked £1.3m in repeated bets over the course of 13 months. At least £55,000 of this money had been stolen from the player’s employer, the Commission found.
888’s “lack of interaction” with this player “raised serious concerns about 888’s safeguarding of customers at risk of gambling harm”, the Commission said.
Of the £7.8m penalty, £4.25m will go towards good causes helping gambling addiction. The rest will be repaid to the customers affected.
Sarah Harrison, chief executive at the Gambling Commission, said: “Safeguarding consumers is not optional. This penalty package of just under £8m reflects the seriousness of 888’s failings to protect vulnerable customers.
"The 888 sanction package will ensure those affected don’t lose out, that the operator pays the price for its failings via a sum that will go to tackling gambling-related harm, and that independent assurance will be given to see that lessons are learnt.”
In a statement, 888 said: “The company accepts the conclusion of the review and is committed to providing players with a responsible as well as enjoyable gaming experience.”
888 had revealed in May that it was subject to a review by the Gambling Commission.
The Commission has ordered an independent audit of 888's customer protection policies.