Thursday, 4 March 2021

UKGC Issues Warnings To Caesars UK Staff Over Multiple Failings

UKGC Caesars Entertainment UK

The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has issued warnings to staff at Caesars Entertainment UK over multiple failings.

In April last year, the Commission imposed a £13 million fine on Caesars Entertainment UK after discovering “a catalogue of failures” between January 2016 and December 2018. These included failings over money laundering, social responsibility, and interaction with VIP customers. In addition to the fine, the operator was forced to implement a series of improvements to prevent the failings from occurring again.

The UKGC, which announced new slot restrictions earlier this year, also launched an investigation into Caesars Entertainment UK’s Personal Management License (PML) holders over concerns they had failed to take all steps to ensure the way they carry out their responsibilities in relation to licensed activities did not place the holder of the operating license in breach of conditions.

As a result of the investigation, the UK Gambling Commission has confirmed that seven PML holders received license warnings, two PML holders received advice to conduct, and three PML holders surrendered their license after receiving notification that their license had been placed under review.

The UKGC states that a further one PML holder surrendered their license whilst subject to investigation, but before receiving notification of a license review, another PML holder who was under investigation was subject to revocation after failing to pay license fees, and a further 18 PML holders received advice to conduct letter. Finally, another PML holder had their license revoked in a separate incident after an altercation with a guest.

In a statement, Richard Watson, the Executive Director at the UKGC, said: “All personal license holders should be aware that they will be held accountable, where appropriate, for the regulatory failings within the operators they manage.”

The UKGC’s Initial Investigation

In the UK Gambling Commission’s initial investigation prior to fining Caesars Entertainment UK, the regulatory body found that the operator had allowed a previously self-excluded customer to lost £240,000 over a 13-month period and that Caesars UK had failed to carry out its source of funds check on a retired postman who lost £15,000 over 44 days.

In addition, the Commission found that Caesars UK failed to interact with a customer who lost £323,000 over a 12-month period and who displayed signs of problem gambling, including 30 gambling sessions that exceed a five-hour playtime. The operator reportedly also allowed a self-employed nanny to lose £18,000 in a year despite her informing staff that she had spent her savings, was borrowing money from family and using an overdraft to fund her gambling.

Regarding Caesars Entertainment UK’s money laundering failings, the Commission found that the operator failed to conduct its source of funds check on a customer who spent £3.5 million and lost £1.6 million over a three-month period and that the operator failed to obtain adequate source of funds evidence for a politically exposed person who lost £795,000 over 13 months.

In addition, the UKGC discovered that Caesars Entertainment UK did not carry out its enhanced customer due diligence checks on someone who lost £240,000 over 13 months and that the operator did not carry out an adequate source of funds check on a waitress who spent £87,000 and lost £15,000 over 12 months.

At the time, Neil McArthur, the UKGC’s Chief Executive, said in a statement: “The failings in this case are extremely serious. A culture of putting customer safety at the heart of business decisions should be set from the very top of every company and Caesars failed to do this. We will now continue to investigate the individual license holders involved with the decisions taken in this case.”

He added: “We are absolutely clear about our expectations of operators – whatever type of gambling they offer they must know their customers. They must interact with them and check what they can afford to gamble with – stepping in when they see signs of harm. Consumer safety is non-negotiable.”

UKGC Establishes First Lived Experience Advisory Panel

The above news comes as the UKGC has established its Lived Experience Advisory Panel to improve player safety within the gambling industry. The Commission revealed this week that the panel would continue the work of its interim Experts By Experience Group, which was formed last year.

According to the regulatory body, the panel held its first successful meeting this week, consisting of people with lived experience of gambling harm, including those who were affected by someone else’s gambling. The panel aims at making gambling safer and will work with the Commission to advise the organisation on policy development initiatives.

In a statement, Neil McArthur said: “The establishment of this group is a great step forward for us in our work in making gambling safer and building our understanding of harm and its impacts. As already proven by the input of the Interim Group, the views and perspectives of Lived Experience in our decision making is invaluable and is already having a positive impact in our work in addressing gambling-related harm.

“Lived Experience feedback in our policy work has already led to progress through input to consultations on game design and customer interaction and affordability and strengthened online advertising rules.”

A spokesperson for the Lived Experience Advisory Panel added: “We are pleased that the Gambling Commission has recognised the importance of listening to people who have been harmed by gambling and welcome their real commitment to ensuring that this can happen.

“The creation of this group creates a real opportunity for the voice of those with lived experience to support and influence the work of the Gambling Commission. We are a diverse group of people and bring a wide range of skills and personal experience of gambling harm. We take this role seriously and look forward to working together as a group to make progress in tackling gambling harm.”