UK gambling firms paid out a record £19.6m in penalties last year for failing to protect problem gamblers and crack down on money laundering.
The largest fine was handed down to online gambling firm Daub Alderney, which was ordered to pay £7.1m for falling foul of strict rules laid out by the gambling watchdog.
Paddy Power Betfair, which has now rebranded as Flutter Entertainment, coughed up £2.2m. Other major fines included a £5.85m penalty for online casino Casumo and a £1m charge for Videoslots.
The Gambling Commission, which published the figures, said it had carried out more than 160 regulatory and criminal investigations over the year.
The figures are an increase on the £18.4m shelled out last year. In 2016, gambling firms were fined just £1.7m.
The watchdog said it had discovered “repeated” examples of customers being allowed to gamble significant sums of money in short time frames, despite not being able to afford it.
It also warned that gambling firms’ anti-money laundering policies were frequently found not to be fit for purpose.
“I want gambling consumers in Britain to be able to enjoy the fairest and safest gambling in the world and I want gambling operators to work with us to put customer enjoyment and safety at the top of their corporate agenda,” said Neil McArthur, Gambling Commission chief executive.
“As the report shows, we will be tough when we find operators bending the rules or failing to meet our expectations, but we also want to try and minimise the need for such action by providing advice, a programme of support material and compliance activity to help operators get things right in the first place.’’
The UK gambling industry is facing a tightening of regulation amid concerns about the growing problem of addiction.
Earlier this year the government slashed the minimum stake on fixed-odds betting terminals from £100 to £2, a move bookies warned would lead to a string of store closures and job losses.