Gibraltar Gambling Commissioner to Follow 888 Holdings Internal Investigation
The Gambling Commissioner for Gibraltar has announced that it will follow the developments of the internal investigation initiated by 888 Holdings in relation to potential issues with anti-money laundering and Know Your Customer checks in the Middle East. The investigation, which was announced by 888 Holdings earlier this week, followed the suspension of the company’s VIP customer accounts in the Middle East, and the news that the company’s CEO Itai Pazner had stepped down with an immediate effect.
This news has resulted in a fair bit of turmoil for the Gibraltar-based bookmaker who operates the betting site 888sport and the online casino 888casino. For a start, the company has projected that its overall revenue for the year will drop by 3% as a result of suspending the VIP customer accounts in the Middle East. Furthermore, the withdrawal of Pazner resulted in a 14.4% drop in share price, which is now on the recovery again, albeit in a rather slow fashion. And while a potential new CEO may not necessarily be a bad thing for the company, especially having in mind that the company shares dropped by almost 40% during his period of management, the new CEO will have to face harsh scrutiny from regulatory bodies as a result of the potential failings in the Middle East region of operations.
The first regulatory body to react to the news is the Gibraltar Gambling Commissioner, an institution which is under pressure itself after the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) blacklisted the betting and gaming centre due to finding faults with its anti-money laundering standards. And while Gibraltar Gambling Commissioner Andrew Lyman has stated that the country will not be tightening any rules or regulations solely to please FATF, the Gambling Commissioner has acted fast in stating that 888 Holdings and its internal compliance investigation will be closely monitored and scrutinised.
The UK Gambling Commission, meanwhile, has been silent about the issue. As 888 Holdings is licenced to operate in the United Kingdom, the UK Gambling Commission has the authority to initiate an investigation into the company’s operations. Indeed, the regulator has been fairly active in recent weeks, having announced that it will impose a large fine of £337,631 on Vivaro Limited, the company behind online sports betting provider vbet following an investigation into the bookmaker’s anti-money laundering and safe gambling practices. In other news, online casino provider Intouch Games found itself fined by the Gambling Commission a substantial amount, £6.9m for similar reasons.
The UK Gambling Commission has taken increasingly stricter measures against bookmakers who failed to improve their processes following regulatory actions, with the fine imposed to Intouch Games being the third of its kind for the company in a 4-year-period. The Gambling Commission already fined 888 Holdings a staggering £9.4 million in March 2022 for issues with their anti-money laundering processes, and it is likely that the regulator is now biding its time and awaiting to find out more about the extent of the current issue. Meanwhile, William Hill, another of the brands operated by 888 Holdings, is already being investigated by the Gambling Commission for historic issues with its retail operations.
The good news for 888 Holdings is that the sports betting and online casino operator is unlikely to lose its Gibraltar licence. The Gibraltar Gambling Commissioner has stated that it will review and discuss the outcome of the internal compliance investigation, however it also points out that all the accounts involved have already been suspended and that 888 Holdings has committed fully to a regulatory transparency. A statement from the Commission reads:
“It is too early to say what the regulatory outcome will be, but on the known facts, and because of the level of commitment to resolution, licence suspension or revocation is highly unlikely.”
888 Holdings has stated that the issue involves only VIP customer accounts, and only in the Middle East region. Its other operations, including its betting sites in the United Kingdom, continue to operate in the usual manner. In the UK, the company has a proven track record of excellent customer service. Furthermore, the bookmaker’s betting sites 888sport and William Hill rank very highly on our list of Best Odds Guaranteed Betting Sites for 2023
The self-initiated internal investigation in the Middle East region only reaffirms the commitment 888 Holdings has made to maintaining high standards of integrity, and taking seriously any potential issues where customer safety and responsible gambling are involved. We will follow the developments around the internal investigation and will report any further news on our blog – please watch this space for more information.