Industry Reports

UK Gambling Commission Fines Gala Interactive £2.3 Million for Failing to Protect Problem Gamblers

The British casino and bingo operator Gala Interactive will have to pay £2.3 million fine after it appeared on the radar screen of the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) for allegedly failing to follow the regulator’s established framework for the socially responsible provision of gambling services. Earlier this year, UKGC warned that it is to impose hefty sanctions on casino operators, which do not comply with its rules outlined in License conditions and codes of practice (LCCP).

In an announcement posted on its website today, the British gambling regulator found Gala Interactive guilty for breaching regulations which protect consumers. Following an in-depth investigation, it emerged on the surface that Gala failed to protect vulnerable customers and it allowed significant lapses in its written policies and procedures that could have prevented gaming issues.

According to the UKGC, two gamblers, whose names remained undisclosed, stole £1.3 million to gamble on Gala’s website. The first player wagered £837,545 on the site over 14 months, while the other player gambled away £432,765 over 11 months. The UKGC found Gala responsible for failing to spot the two players’ problem gambling behavior and effectively interact with them.

In April 2016, Gala Interactive found itself at the heart of a similar controversy. Following the UK gambling watchdog’s statement, the operator promised to improve its anti-money laundering and social responsibility processes. More than a year later, it seems that Gala did not learn its lesson and it even made the same mistake.

Wrongdoers to Redeem Their Mistakes by Paying Sturdy Sanctions

According to the UKGC, the first player is to spend four years behind the bars for stealing from their employer, while the second player is sentenced four and a half years in jail for acquiring, using or possessing criminal property. Gala’s sanction includes £1 million payment to fund problem gambling research and £1.2 million payment to compensate the two players’ victims.

Gala Interactive admitted that it failed to comply with UKGC’s rules regarding the socially responsible provision of gambling services and it announced that it is to voluntarily pay £200,000 to fund research, investigating problem gambling cases.

Speaking of Gala’s case, the Chief Executive Officer of the UK Gambling Commission Sarah Harrison said that the gambling regulator will be imposing heavier fines to those violating UKGC’s rules. His words are not only aiming at threatening casino operators, but at warning wrongdoers. It can be said that the British gambling regulator has not been shy to impose hefty sanctions on the wrongdoers over the years. Earlier this year, the authority slapped online gambling operator 888 Holdings Plc. with a record £7.8 million (US$10 million) fine for failing to prevent problem gamblers from wagering.