In the United Kingdom, sportsbetting and gambling firm Ladbrokes Coral Group has reportedly been fined £2.3 million ($3 million) after it was found to have allowed a pair of online players to gamble away approximately $1.2 million ($1.5 million) in stolen funds.
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According to a report from The Guardian newspaper, the fine from the Gambling Commission regulator was announced only days after an official government review advised United Kingdom-licensed online gambling firms that they could face stiffer legislation if they did not toughen up controls.
The newspaper reported that Ladbrokes Coral Group was sanctioned yesterday following an investigation that determined the firm’s Gala Interactive online subsidiary had permitted one client to lose £837,545 ($1.1 million) over a 14-month period utilizing cash stolen from an employer. The inquiry purportedly found that a second customer had unsuccessfully wagered some £432,765 ($569,000) in illicit proceeds with the giant operator’s subordinate during an eleven-month episode. Both players are now serving prison sentences of four and four-and-a-half years respectively.
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Ladbrokes Coral Group is the largest land-based retail bookmaker in the United Kingdom with around 4,000 Ladbrokes and Coral-branded betting shops while its online casino and sportsbetting brands include Coral.co.uk, GalaCasino.com and Ladbrokes.com. In accepting the fine, the firm reportedly explained that £1.3 million ($1.7 million) has been earmarked for the players’ victims while £1 million ($1.3 million) is to be used to fund research into the causes of problem gambling.
The Guardian reported that Ladbrokes Coral Group moreover voluntarily agreed to hand over an additional £200,000 ($262,820) to support gambling research, which British charity GambleAware recently declared was being under-funded to the tune of around £6 million ($7.8 million) a year.
Jim Mullen, Chief Executive Officer for Ladbrokes Coral Group, reportedly announced that the fine was ‘evidence of a lack of priority being given to changes in approach identified in earlier engagements’ and that it was clear that his firm ‘had not met our own standards or those demanded by the [Gambling] Commission’.
“Being public with our failings is an uncomfortable experience for any business but we believe it is right that others can see the extent of our mistakes and try to learn from them,” Mullen reportedly told The Guardian.
The newspaper reported that the Gambling Commission has handed out eight fines totalling nearly £16 million ($21 million) to various online gambling operators since October of 2015 while its Chief Executive, Sarah Harrison, purportedly stated that the watchdog intends to ‘continue to take robust action where we see operator failures that harm consumers and the wider public’.
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“It is the responsibility of all operators to ensure they are protecting their customers and step in when there is behavior that might indicate problem gambling,” Harrison reportedly told The Guardian. “This did not happen in this case and the £2.3 million penalty package should serve as a warning to other operators.”