Business

888 shares hit by Gambling Commission review

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Shares in online gambling company 888 Holdings have fallen by 8% after it revealed it was under investigation by the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC).

The firm said the UKGC was assessing "certain measures" taken by 888's UK subsidiary to ensure "social responsibility to its customers".

The review will examine the effectiveness of the ways customers can ask to be excluded from gambling.

The company said it would work with the UKGC on the review.

888 said the review would assess "effective self-exclusion tools across different operating platforms".

The company's UK business, which accounts for about 45% of group revenues, is involved in poker, casino, sports and bingo gambling.

Analyst Simon Davies of Canaccord Genuity said the review followed a period of "increased regulatory activity in the UK online gaming market".

UKGC announced its first ever fine for advertising breaches on 2 May when BGO was fined £300,000.

In February last year, Paddy Power agreed to improve its anti-money laundering and social responsibility processes, and give £280,000 to socially responsible causes.

In June 2016, BetFred was fined £800,000 for "failures in anti money laundering and social responsibility practices" following a licence review.

Mr Davies said "clearly, there is the risk" that 888 would have to pay a fine if any breaches were identified but "888 is highly profitable, and has a strong balance sheet".

Analysts at Peel Hunt said any fine was likely to be "tolerable, based on past experience".

"And the rest of the industry will have to follow whatever changed business practices are required, neutralising any competitive impact," it added.

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