Online betting firm Betway has been fined a record £11.6m by the gambling regulator over social responsibility and money-laundering failures linked to its treatment of high-spending customers.
The Gambling Commission said that Betway had allowed £5.8m to flow through its business which “has been found, or could reasonably be suspected to be, proceeds of crime”.
The regulator found a series of “failings” in Betway’s dealings with seven so-called VIP customers, including one who deposited £8m over four years and lost half, without the betting firm ever asking where the funds had come from.
“The actions of Betway suggest there was little regard for the welfare of its VIP customers or the impact on those around them,” said Gambling Commission executive director Richard Watson.
In another case, the regulator found that Betway had failed to fulfill its problem gambling obligations with a customer who deposited and lost £187,000 in two days.
Chief executive Anthony Werkman said Betway “takes full responsibility for the small number of historic cases which have led to this settlement”.
“We have fully cooperated with the investigation and will take further proactive steps to ensure all recommendations and findings are implemented,” he added.
The commission’s record fine for Betway follows criticism that it is too weak as a regulator, with the National Audit Office (NAO) warning that the watchdog was being outpaced by gambling companies.
The NAO said earlier this year that the regulator was “constrained by factors outside its control, including inflexible funding and a lack of evidence on how developments in the industry affect consumers”.
The commission had already ordered the industry to review its incentivisation schemes for high-spending customers, which will be led by Ladbrokes-owner GVC.
Watson said the Betway fine demonstrated why companies’ treatment of so-called VIPs needed to change.
“We have set tight deadlines for when we expect to see progress and if we do not see the right results then we will have no choice but to take further action,” he said.