Casino operator Caesars Entertainment is set to pay £13 million after a series of failures over money laundering, social responsibility and customer interaction in the UK, in the Gambling Commission’s biggest penalty package.
Three senior managers have also given up their personal licenses.
The commission said it had found “serious systematic failings” at the business, which operates 11 casinos across Britain.
It singled out the way VIP customers were treated between January 2016 and December 2018.
One customer was allowed to lose £323,000 in a year despite showing signs of problem gambling, including spending more than five hours in a casino on 30 occasions.
It also failed to do proper checks on where the funds of big spenders came from, including one customer who wagered £3.5 million and lost £1.6 million in three months, and another politically exposed person who lost £795,000 in just over a year.
Neil McArthur, chief executive of the Gambling Commission, said: “We have published this case at this time because it’s vitally important that the lessons are factored into the work the industry is currently doing to address poor practices of VIP management in which we must see rapid progress made.”
The £13 million will be used to reduce harmful gambling.
It is the biggest penalty any gambling company has been forced to pay, ahead of an £11.6 million package slapped on Betway last month for VIP customer failings.
Mr McArthur added: “The failings in this case are extremely serious. 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. We will now continue to investigate the individual licence holders involved with the decisions taken in this case.
“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.”
Past penalties from the Gambling Commission include £7.8 million for 888 in 2017, a £7.1 fine for Daub Alderney in 2018, £6.2 million for William Hill in 2018 and £5.9 million for Ladbrokes Coral Group in 2019.
So far this year, the commission has suspended the operating licences of three businesses.
Caesars chief regulatory and compliance officer Susan Carletta said: “Caesars Entertainment UK acknowledges falling short of its standards and accepts the settlement reached with the British Gambling Commission.
“Since discovering, immediately addressing and reporting deficiencies in 2018, we have enhanced our compliance policies and procedures, and are complying with the licence conditions and commission’s guidance for best practice. We are confident of the efficacy of our compliance initiatives going forward.”