The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has imposed a £2.3-million fine on Gala Interactive after an investigation found that the company breached customer protection regulations.
The UK gambling regulatory authority’s actions follow an investigation, which discovered considerably flaws of the Gala Interactive’s dealings with two high-roller customers who spent approximately £1.3 million of stolen money to gamble. According to the data announced by the UK Gambling Commission, the first customer lost a total of £837,545 in a period of 14 months, while the other player lost the amount of £432,765 over 11 months.
The two of them played the games available on the online gambling website of Gala. Both of them have stolen the money. The first customer was sentenced to four in jail for stealing from their employer, while the second player was imprisoned for four and a half years for acquiring by criminal property usage or possession.
The penalty package that is to be paid by the company comprises of a £1-million payment that is to be used for problem gambling causes research and a £1.3-million payment to the victims of the two players’ victims. Also, a voluntary payment amounting to £200,000 is to be made by the gambling operator to fund research relating to the cases of problem gambling.
Gala Fails to Comply with Customer Protection Rules
An investigation carried out by the UKGC proved that gambling operator failed to make an effective interaction with both customers who were definitely showing signs of gambling addictions. In addition, the UK gambling regulatory authority did not manage to provide written policies and customer protection procedures aimed to deal with problem gambling behaviour.
The company admitted its failure to deal with the problem.
Unfortunately for Gala Interactive, there were some circumstances that happened to increase the severity of the company’s criminal act. More than a year ago, at the end of April 2016, Gala faced similar accusations of customer protection rules failures.
At the time when the previous case was reviewed by the Commission, the gambling operator told the regulator that customers of concern would be identified sooner and effective actions would be taken. It happened so that the two customers involved in the current case against the company were already gambling on the online website of the brand.
The Chief Executive Officer of the UK Gambling Commission, Sarah Harrison, commented on the Gala Interactive case, saying that the gambling regulatory body is to remain focused on taking timely and strong actions whenever gambling operators fail to be in line with customer protection rules. Ms. Harrison reminded that all gambling operators are responsible to make sure that their customers are well-protected and to take the necessary steps when they detect problem gambling behaviour.
The UKGC CEO further explained that Gala Interactive failed to be in line with the above-mentioned requirements, so the monetary penalty package amounting to £2.3 million should be taken as a warning by the other operators.
Previous Penalties Imposed by the Commission
This is not the first time when the UK Gambling Commission imposes financial penalties to local gambling operators for failing to comply with customer protection rules.
A few days ago, on October 30th, the UKGC imposed a £80,000 fine on Stan James Online for failing to comply with the financial requirements of the regulator after failing to detect problem gambling behaviour of a customer.
The end of August saw the UK Gambling Commission impose one of the largest fines ever. The UK gambling regulatory authority imposed a massive penalty package of £7.8 million on one of the biggest online gambling companies in the country – 888 UK Limited – for the operator’s failure to handle several cases of customers who had been put at risk. According to the Commission’s findings, the social responsibility processes of the operator had been seriously flawed.
On the other hand, an interesting trend is that the UK Gambling Commission has still taken no actions on even more serious allegations against some UK gambling operators, such as 888 and Betway, which were associated with notorious hacker, or group of hackers, stealing Internet traffic and redirecting it to online gambling websites.