Gala Interactive to pay £2.3m penalty package following social responsibility failures

Business News

Gala Interactive (Gala) will pay £2.3m for breaching regulations which protect consumers. 

The action follows the discovery of significant flaws in Gala’s dealings with two high-spending customers who gambled away around £1.3m of stolen money.

Customer A lost £837,545 over 14 months and Customer B lost £432,765 over 11 months. Both lost the money playing Gala’s online games.

A Gambling Commission investigation revealed that Gala failed to effectively interact with the two customers who were displaying problem gambling behaviour. The operator also failed to have in place written policies and procedures that could have curbed the problem gambling behaviour.

An aggravating factor was that during a previous case regarding similar failings, Gala told the Commission that customers of concern would be identified sooner and effectively handled. This assurance was made during the same time that Customer A and Customer B were gambling with Gala.

Sarah Harrison, Chief Executive at the Commission, said: “We will continue to take robust action where we see operator failures that harm consumers and the wider public.

“It is the responsibility of all operators – particularly key decision makers in those companies – to ensure they are protecting their customers and step in when there is behaviour that might indicate problem gambling.

“This did not happen in this case and the £2.3m penalty package should serve as a warning to other operators.”

Customer A was imprisoned for four years for stealing from an employer and Customer B was jailed for four-and-a-half jail for acquiring, using or possessing criminal property.

Today’s package comprises:

  • £1m payment to fund research relating to the causes of problem gambling1
  • Payment of £1.3m to the victims of Customer A and Customer B.

Gala Interactive acknowledged its failings and, in addition to the penalty package, has volunteered to pay a further £200,000 to fund research relating to the causes of problem gambling.