Caesars Slapped With Largest Fine Ever in UK

Caesars Entertainment UK was served a ₤13 million fine for violating a “catalogue” of social responsibility failings in its dealing with the VIP market. The fine is part of a stepped-up effort by the UK Gambling Commission to police the VIP market more strictly.

In its continued effort to crack down on violations in the VIP market, the UK Gambling Commission last week fined Caesars Entertainment UK a ₤13 million (US$16 million) for many violations in that space. The fine is the largest every handed down by the commission, topping a fine of ₤11.6 million imposed on Betway just last month. In addition to the fine, three senior executives were forced to give up their licenses.

Gambling Commission Chief Executive Neil McArthur blamed the violations on “serious systematic failings” at Caesars in incidents that occurred between January 2016 and December 2018.

“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.”

Violations included ignoring signs of problem gambling and a lack of knowledge of the source of funds used by gamblers.

Caesars acknowledged its errors.

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

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

Meanwhile, the UK commission completed a conference with 30 operators and emerged with a scheme to provide “safer gambling” in the country. Factors include a minimum age for a VIP customer of 25, a reduction in the “intensity of play” but slowing down the action and the removal of “turbo” buttons, and a closer eye on online advertising to avoid marketing to vulnerable groups.

“We have been encouraged by the progress on VIP incentives, safer advertising and safer products,” said McArthur. “We set these challenges to deliver real and rapid change for consumers in key areas of risk.

“However, it is important these commitments are implemented as soon as possible. It should not take months to implement safeguards many would expect to be in place already.

“We will now consult on the necessary changes to our rule book to ensure all operators have to meet the new standards.”