Caesars Entertainment fined amid crackdown on gambling addiction

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Caesars Entertainment, the UK arm of the US casino company, has been fined £13m after an investigation into its failure to prevent addicted gamblers losing hundreds of thousands of pounds.

The Gambling Commission, which monitors the UK gambling industry, has revoked the personal licence of three senior Caesars’ managers, who have now left the company. The fine is the largest that the commission has handed down to date.

The watchdog said on Thursday that Caesars had failed to stop two gamblers with known gambling addiction problems from losing more than £550,000 in a year. It also did not adequately check the source of funds for a number of customers, one of whom played with £3.5m and lost £1.6m in a three-month period.

“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,” said Neil McArthur, the Gambling Commission’s chief executive.

Caesars, which runs the Empire and Playboy casinos in London as well as five casinos in other UK cities, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The disclosure of the fine comes a day after the commission announced plans to stop under-25s joining so-called VIP schemes, which gambling companies use to cultivate high spending customers, and to increase regulation around gambling advertising online. It is also investigating ways to limit the speed of spins on online slot and roulette games.

The measures are part of an crackdown on the industry, which has long been seen as exploitative of vulnerable and addicted customers.

Brigid Simmonds, chairman of the Betting and Gaming Council, a body recently formed to represent the industry, said that she was pleased with the industry’s efforts to collaborate with the regulator.

“The progress reported today including restricting under-25s from qualifying for high-value customer accounts; strengthened advertising rules and games with slower speeds and the removal of some functionality comes despite difficult operating circumstances during the Covid-19 crisis,” she said.

Since the cancellation or postponement of the majority of sports events this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, gambling companies have attempted to redirect customers to online games other than sports bets.

Many anti-gambling campaigners have warned that as a result of the population being cooped up at home there could be a rise in cases of gambling addiction.

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