Shares fall as 888 announce that they are under review by the UKGC

888 holdings888 Holdings Ltd. is a giant in the gaming industry. They operate, as well as own several different online casinos, involved in poker, sports and bingo gambling. They are recognised as “one of the world’s most popular online gaming entertainment and solution providers”. On Monday morning, they released a statement announcing that the United Kingdom’s Gambling Commission (UKGC) was conducting a review.

“License Activities”

UKGC is a national regulatory body that reviews over 1,000 companies for remote gaming, including leading operators such as BetFair, William Hill and Ladbrokes. They are currently reviewing 888 Holdings for “the manner in which a subsidiary of the company has carried on its licensed activities to ensure compliance with the UKGC operating licence held by the licensee”.

UKGC will examine the effectiveness of 888’s methods in their efforts to be social responsible. Specifically, they will assess the self-exclusion tools 888 use across different operating platforms that allow customers to gamble responsibly. 888 said that they would work with UKGC on the review –  “the company is dedicated to providing players with a responsible as well as enjoyable gaming experience and the licensee will be proactively engaged in a cooperative and collaborative manner ”

Responsible Gaming

Responsible gaming is based on gambling operators and game software providers ensuring a fair and safe gaming experience. This concept is meant to protect players from the adverse consequences of gaming and gambling, namely addiction.

Self-exclusion is a tool that has taken prominence in the recent years. The ability to ‘self-exclude’ prevents customers from gambling for a set period of time (usually minimum of 6 months). There are also time-out features where players can prevent themselves from playing for 24 hours, one week, one month or up to six weeks.

Increased Regulations & Fines

888’s review comes just weeks after BGO entertainment was fined £300,000 on May 2nd 2017. This was UKGC’s first ever fine for advertising breaches and sparks a new wave of increased regulatory activity in the UK gaming market. They are clamping down on operational licence conditions and codes of practice. UKGC have also put Paddy Power Betfair under scrutiny for failing to improve its anti-money laundering and social responsibility processes. As a result, Paddy Power paid £280,000 to socially responsible causes.

There is a risk that 888 would have to pay a hefty fine if breaches to their license were identified. However, analysts are confident that 888 would be able to tolerate it, as they are a highly profitable business with a strong balance sheet. Analyst Simon Davies (Canaccord Genuity) said that 888 could be fined or worst still, have its license revoked if UKGC found that the company breached the state regulators rules.

Stocks and Shares

888 made the stock exchange mandatory announcement that one of its subsidiaries was being investigated, they did not specify which subsidiary, nor specifically why it was being reviewed. 888 Holdings UK business accounts for approximately 45% of group revenues. Shares in 888 Holdings fell as low as 10% on Monday.

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