Casino operator Caesars hit with record £13m penalty

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Casino operator Caesars Entertainment UK has been hit with a £13m penalty by the Gambling Commission following a “catalogue” of social responsibility and money laundering failures.

The penalty is the largest imposed by the commission to date.

The regulator uncovered “serious systematic failings” at Caesars, which operates 11 casinos in the UK.

Caesars said it accepted the settlement and acknowledged it had “fallen short of standards”.

The Gambling Commission focused on the treatment of “VIP” customers between January 2016 and December 2018.

VIP schemes reward people who bet large sums of money. The Gambling Commission said it has reached an agreement with betting firms to age-restrict VIP incentive schemes to those aged 25 years old and above.

Among the failings the commission uncovered were:

  • inadequate interaction with one customer who lost £323,000 in a 12-month period and had displayed signs of problem gambling
  • inadequate interaction with, and source of funds checks on, a customer who identified as a retired postman and lost £15,000 in 44 days
  • inadequate source of funds checks on a customer who bet £3.5m and lost £1.6m over a three-month period

In addition to the financial penalty, three senior managers at Caesars have given up their personal licences.

“The failings in this case are extremely serious,” said the Gambling Commission’s chief executive, Neil McArthur.

“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.

“In recent times the online sector has received the greatest scrutiny around VIP practices but VIP practices are found right across the industry and our tough approach to compliance and enforcement will continue, whether a business is on the High Street or online.

“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.”

Caesars chief regulatory and compliance officer Susan Carletta said: “Caesars Entertainment UK acknowledges falling short of its standards and accepts the settlement reached with the British Gambling Commission.

“Since discovering, immediately addressing and reporting deficiencies in 2018, we have enhanced our compliance policies and procedures, and are complying with the licence conditions and commission’s guidance for best practice. We are confident of the efficacy of our compliance initiatives going forward.”

The £13m penalty will go towards funding the National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harm.

The Gambling Commission has been stepping up its actions against betting companies and has imposed penalties of £27m in total this year.

The action against Caesars tops the previous record £11.6m penalty imposed on Betway last month.

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