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Ladbrokes owner fined record £17m for failing to spot suspicious customers

Ladbrokes Gambling Entain Betting
Ladbrokes Gambling Entain Betting

The owner of Ladbrokes has been fined a record £17m after failing to spot problem gamblers and money laundering, including allowing one suspicious customer to spend £186,000 on its sites.

The fine, the largest ever enforcement action taken by the Gambling Commission, comes after the watchdog discovered “serious failures” at Entain Group.

Entain, which also owns Coral, was given a £14m penalty for not meeting licensing standards in its online business LC International, and another £3m fine in its Ladbrokes Betting & Gambling business, which runs around 2,700 gambling shops across Britain.

Andrew Rhodes, the Gambling Commission chief executive, said an investigation found “completely unacceptable anti-money laundering and safer gambling failures”.

This included one case where a customer deposited more than £230,000 during online gambling sessions over 18 months. It also pointed to a case where one customer was allowed to deposit £742,000 in 14 months online without appropriate source of funds checks, while another who was known to live in social housing deposited £186,000 in six months, without sufficient checks.

Mr Rhodes said: “Operators are reminded they must never place commercial considerations over compliance. This is the second time this operator has fallen foul of rules in place to make gambling safer and crime-free.”

He said the Gambling Commission was monitoring Entain closely and, if further serious breaches occur, there was a “very real possibility” it could remove its licence to operate. Shares slipped 3.4pc on Wednesday morning.

The move to take firm action comes ahead of a tougher clamp-down on the gambling sector, with a long-awaited white paper due to lay out further restrictions on the sector, including new expected rules to cap maximum stake for online casinos.

It was pushed back for the fourth time in June as a result of the Conservative leadership contest, although many gambling companies have already taken steps to impose their own restrictions ahead of the changes, resulting in UK sales slipping in recent months.

Last week, FTSE 100 company Flutter, which owns Paddy Power, said “significant actions” taken to prepare for the legislation changes meant its UK revenues slipped 4pc in the first half of the year, while rival 888 experienced a 25pc sales decline in the UK in the first half.

Entain said it had agreed to the settlement “in order to bring the matter to a close and avoid further costly and protracted legal proceedings”.

“Entain accepts that certain legacy systems and processes supporting the operations of its British business during 2019 and 2020 were not in line with the evolving regulatory expectations of the Commission in respect to aspects of social responsibility and anti-money laundering safeguards.

“However, the Group also notes the Commission’s statement that it found no evidence whatsoever of criminal spend within Entain’s operations.”

It added that it had since brought in changes to address these issues.