Gala Interactive fined £2.5m for social responsibility failings

7 November 2017

The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has issued the Gala Interactive arm of the Ladbrokes Coral Group with a fine of £2.5m (€2.8m/$3.3m) after ruling that the firm breached regulations regarding the protection of consumers.

The move comes in response to two customers losing £1.3m through gambling via the company’s online games, with one player losing £837,545 in 14 months, and the other £432,765 during an 11-month period.

A UKGC investigation found that Gala “failed to effectively interact” with the two customers who were displaying problem gambling behaviour, while the firm also “failed to have in place written policies and procedures that could have curbed the problem gambling behaviour”.

The UKGC also said that Gala had admitted in a previous case regarding similar failings customers of concern would be identified sooner and effectively handled.

Sarah Harrison, chief executive of the UKGC, said: “We will continue to take robust action where we see operator failures that harm consumers and the wider public.

“It is the responsibility of all operators – particularly key decision makers in those companies - to ensure they are protecting their customers and step in when there is behaviour that might indicate problem gambling.

“This did not happen in this case and the £2.3m penalty package should serve as a warning to other operators.”

The first customer has been jailed for four years for stealing from an employer, while the second has been handed a prison sentence of four-and-a-half years for acquiring, using or possessing criminal property.

The £2.3m fine will be split two ways, with £1m to help fund research relating to the causes of problem gambling, and remaining funds to be sent to the victims of the two customers.

Gala Interactive has acknowledged its failings and also volunteered to pay a further £200,000 to fund research relating to the causes of problem gambling.

Related article: Gala Coral to forfeit £846k in UKGC regulatory settlement