William Hill Group is currently subject to a licence review in Great Britain, and has put £15.0m (€18.0m/$19.6m) aside to cover the cost of a potential regulatory settlement, prospective buyer 888 Holdings has revealed.
The review and potential sanctions were revealed in the documents related to an update on 888’s acquisition of William Hill’s non-US business.
This update mostly covered an agreement between 888 and current William Hill owner Caesars to reduce the cash portion purchase price for the WIlliam Hill assets by £250m.
888 said the change was intended to “reflect the change in the macroeconomic and regulatory environment” since the deal was agreed last year.
In the document, 888 revealed that William Hill is subject to an ongoing licence review, launched following a compliance assessment conducted in July and August 2021. The operator is addressing certain action points relating to its social responsibility and anti-money laundering obligations.
As a result, William Hill has put aside a £15m provision in its financial statements for potential sanctions. The largest regulatory settlement ever issued by the Gambling Commission was to Betway, which paid £11.6m for failings related to social responsibility and money laundering regulations for high-spending customers in 2020.
In addition, 888 added that Caesars has also granted an indemnity for “certain licensed entities” within the William Hill business. This agreement would mean Caesars would cover further costs if the any of the licences held by William Hill entities – which include both the William Hill brand and Mr Green – were suspended.
888 itself had also been the subject of regulatory action recently. Earlier this year, it was fined £9.4m over a series of social responsibility and money laundering failings, including setting its deposit threshold for financial checks at £40,000.
Upon handing down the fine, Commission chief executive Andrew Rhodes warned that if similar failings happen again, the regulator may have to “seriously consider the suitability of the operator” to fulfill its responsibilities as a licensee.
In response, 888 accepted the decision and said that since the regulator’s compliance assessment concluded in 2020, it took “immediate and appropriate” action to update its policies and procedures.
Actions included Implementing additional customer source of funds checks and loss limits, reducing the thresholds to trigger alerts and customer interactions, and investing in its safer gambling and compliance teams.