UKGC: Caesars Entertainment hurts addicts


Caesars Entertainment has been hit with a massive fine after the UK’s Gambling Commission ruled that the company had harmed people who were addicted to betting.

Earlier in the month, the Gambling Commission announced that Caesars would have to pay £13 million due to an investigation by the body that found a series of systemic issues.

The fine is likely to have a major impact on Caesars Entertainment, which like many other companies in the gambling industry has also been hit very hard by the coronavirus crisis.

Caesars has had to shut down its land-based casinos all over the world, the firm furloughing around 90 per cent of casino employees as a result. It remains unclear when those Caesars casinos might be able to open their doors again with the pandemic’s death toll still rising fast.

The Gambling Commission ruling could also come as a vital wake-up call for Caesars – as well as the wider gambling industry as a whole.

What did Caesars Entertainment do wrong to get the fine?

The Gambling Commission gave a damning assessment of failings at Caesars Entertainment. Issues at Caesars – which runs 11 casinos in Britain and many more around the world – concerned its treatment of VIP customers in a period spanning early 2016 to late 2018.

Among the worst individual cases highlighted by UKGC included one person who lost £15,000 in just 44 days. Another, who previously self-excluded, lost £240,000 over a 13-month period.

Another customer at Caesars showed signs of problem gambling, including embarking on lengthy periods of betting that often lasted for several hours. She told staff at Caesars she had spent her savings, but she was still able to lose £323,000 in a 12-month period to the firm.

As well as these worrying issues, Caesars was found to have a range of money laundering failings, including failing to access adequate evidence of source of funds for a customer. It was also revealed by the UKGC that the company did not carry out any enhanced customer due diligence for a different customer who then lost £240,000 during a period of just over a year.

A further Caesars customer was able to wager around £3.5 million in just three months – losing in the region of £1.6 million. According to the UKGC, the company did not carry out any of the necessary adequate source of funds checks.

That Caesars Entertainment – which claims on its official website to be the largest casino entertainment company in the world – could fail to protect its customers in such a serious way will have been eye-opening to the sector.

What the gambling industry can learn about the Caesars Entertainment case

Many casino companies around the world may be able to learn lessons as a result of this case.

As Zoe Walker, the editor-in-chief at leading portal,, reflects: “The industry as a whole can do a lot more to help people that have gambling problems. The only question is are they willing to cut their profit by doing so.”

This is the crux of the matter. Casino companies rely on problem gamblers, to an extent. This means there is little encouragement for them to help people who are struggling with addiction.

VIP customers have long been treated by casino operators as a source of easy money. Often, online casinos automatically subscribe their new customers to their VIP schemes, meaning they do not even have to actively sign up to the schemes in order to receive those perks.

Since the Caesars ruling, the Gambling Commission has announced £9 million is to be given to GambleAware – which is a charity supporting initiatives to battle gambling-related harm across the UK. The money will come from funds received from various regulatory settlements.

What the Gambling Commission said about Caesars Entertainment’s failings

Chief executive of the Gambling Commission, Neil McArthur, pointed out in the organisation’s statement on Caesars Entertainment that problems with VIP customers are an industry issue.

“The failings in this case are extremely serious,” he said. “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.”

McArthur added that gambling companies must interact more with their customers, as well as carrying out proper checks to see how much of their money they can afford to gamble with.

UKGC also confirmed in its statement that the £13 million fine paid by Caesars will go to the National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms. The three-year strategy aims to bring business, charities and regulators together in order to reduce the harms of gambling addiction in the UK.

As well as having to pay the massive fine, three senior managers at Caesars Entertainment gave up their personal licences following the investigation by the Gambling Commission.