The owner of William Hill, 888, will receive the largest fine in the history of the gambling watchdog
The owner of William Hill, 888, is bracing for the biggest fine ever imposed by Britain’s gambling watchdog in yet another setback for the company.
It has set aside £15m to cover penalties stemming from an investigation by regulators into its “anti-money laundering and social responsibility obligations”.
But industry sources told the Mail the figure could be even higher, surpassing the Gambling Commission’s biggest fine to date, the £17m fine paid by Entain last year.
Inquire: 888 has set aside £15m to cover penalties stemming from an investigation by regulators into its “anti-money laundering and social responsibility obligations”
One said it could be “north of £20m”. Such a penalty would be a major blow to 888, which is due to drop from the FTSE 250 this month after seeing its share price plunge 85% since September 2021.
888 bought William Hill from US-based Caesars Entertainment last summer in a £2bn deal.
Around £250m was removed from the price, which 888 said reflected “the change in the macroeconomic and regulatory environment” and “compliance factors affecting William Hill’s business”, including the investigation.
The commission declined to comment on a possible 888 fine, but the Post understands that a formal announcement is imminent.
Richard Williams, a gaming and regulatory partner at Keystone Law, said: “It doesn’t look great that companies aren’t learning from mistakes, even if the alleged failures are historical and relate to failures that occurred when the operator was not entity owner. .’
888, which owns online casinos, poker and sports betting sites as well as more than 1,000 William Hill stores, is already grappling with other regulatory issues.
Last month, his boss made a surprise exit after he launched an investigation into suspected money laundering in VIP client accounts in the Middle East.
Chief Executive Itai Pazner left after more than two decades, including four years at the top.
888 said it suspended VIP client accounts usually reserved for the richest and most lucrative players after an internal review found that best practices had not been followed in areas, including anti-money laundering processes.
Their VIP accounts generate substantial turnover as high rollers are encouraged to wager large sums.
Lord Mendelsohn, a fellow Labor member and chairman of the group, has taken over day-to-day until a permanent boss is found.
888 announces its full-year results at the end of the month. The industry is also waiting for the game’s white paper, which has been delayed for almost two years, but could mean major changes for the sector, including affordability checks.
888 share it fell 0.9 percent, or 0.6 pence, to 69.65 pence.