Will the 888 fine change anything for the better?

You bet it won’t!

The caveat as per any investment transaction is, “Past performance is not an indicator of future results.”  Despite this warning there would have to be a huge culture change in gambling companies for significant change to happen.

What did 888 and very likely others change after the previous fines for PaddyPower (310K), Coral (880K) and Betfred (800K) for similar types of offences?  Not a lot it would seem, so why will this fine be any different?  After these earlier fines the usual platitudes were rolled-out in media quotes, “Lessons will be learnt from our failures” and “These failures were historical; better systems are already in place.”  The email in-box of ‘Justice for Punters’ would suggest that these platitudes were just that.

The city of London is not happy with the performance of 95% of gambling companies (see share prices).  This puts senior executives under huge pressure.   In this case it is an impossible conundrum; do we do the right thing or do we protect a significant amount of our profits, which come from people who have gambling problems?  The commercial considerations will win out, which means that future sanctions will have to cost more than the profits from problem gambling or little will change.  If you think this is unfair and harsh; think about banking and the aftermath since 2007.

Some things will certainly change for the worse.  Anyone who has won money recently online and has tried to withdraw will have noticed an increase in the amount of personal documentation that is often demanded before a withdrawal is possible.  When challenged this is usually explained away by the demands of ‘Know Your Customer’, i.e. the exact same system where all the failures have taken place when people lose large amounts.  Please accept my apologies for smirking at this irony, but the one thing you can guarantee following the 888 fine is that it will become even more difficult to withdraw money online when you win: Be prepared.

Of course, I hope I’m wrong on every count, but if I was creating a market for what I’m predicting the odds on me being correct would be very short based on “past performance,” e.g. form.