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Commission OKs $100K fine for William Hill sportsbook

Updated September 22, 2022 - 7:25 pm

The Nevada Gaming Commission on Thursday unanimously voted to fine the operators of the William Hill sportsbook and several affiliate companies $100,000 to settle a four-count complaint brought by the Nevada Gaming Control Board in August.

Three counts of the complaint stemmed from a flaw in the company’s CBS Race and Sports Book mobile wagering system, which produced thousands of duplicate wagers on some sports bets.

The Control Board complaint said the company didn’t respond promptly to regulators when the problem of the duplicate wagers first occurred. William Hill also failed to respond quickly to customer complaints, according to the complaint drafted by Deputy Attorney General Michael Somps.

A fourth count of the complaint involved the company’s failure to respond quickly on an alleged theft by a sportsbook writer at the Red Garter Casino in West Wendover, who allegedly placed multiple illegal wagers with money from the book’s cash drawer.

Jeffrey Hendricks, senior vice president and assistant general counsel of regulatory and compliance for Caesars Entertainment Inc., operators of William Hill, appeared before the commission and apologized for the matters raised in the complaint.

First occurred in 2015

Somps said William Hill conducted an internal investigation of the duplicate wagers in October and November 2021. The investigation determined the duplications came on wagers made for the same amount on the same event with the same odds within 60 seconds of the original wager.

He said the software flaws were similar to those experienced by CG Technology when it was fined by the commission in 2018. William Hill acquired CGT in 2020.

The investigation determined that the duplicate wagers occurred since 2015. Prior to June 2021, in instances when a patron may have contacted customer service alleging an erroneous duplicate wager, the patron was refunded the amount of the duplicate wager to resolve the issue, but no further action was taken.

The investigation found around 42,000 erroneous duplicate losing wagers through Dec. 20, 2021, resulting in patron losses of about $1.3 million.

Around 13,000 erroneous duplicate winning wagers through that date resulted in patrons being paid around $2 million. William Hill agreed to pay on all winning wagers resulting in an unexpected bonus for those players.

The company did not determine the root cause of the wagering issue, other than to conclude duplicate wagers were most likely to occur during peak traffic times on CBS due to a flaw in how CBS processed multiple attempts by a patron to place the same wager while the system was under heavy load.

The company determined that when the system was heavily used, the queue that holds the wagers would back up. A patron who placed an initial wager would see a processing message, become impatient, exit the application and attempt to place the same wager again. When the system eventually stabilized, all items in the queue would be processed including the duplicate wagers. William Hill eventually installed a “system patch” to fix the problem.

The complaint against the company included its failure to notify regulators of the problem within three business days and for failing to provide adequate customer service when complaints were pouring in.

Customer service solutions

Hendricks said the customer service issues have been addressed with a chatbot to communicate with out-of-state customers and more in-state personnel to talk to Nevada customers.

“Our customer service standards were not up to par and not up to our expectations during the time period reflected in the settlement and clearly not up to the board’s and commission’s standards as well,” Hendricks told commissioners.

He said since July, 99 percent of Nevada complaints have been addressed and 93 percent of them were acted on in 30 seconds or less.

In the complaint involving the sportsbook writer in West Wendover, an audit of the cash drawer concluded that a theft occurred April 12, but it wasn’t discovered until May 12 when a Caesars Sports Book security manager emailed the Elko Control Board enforcement office with a report of a theft of $3,350.

Hendricks told commissioners Thursday that the book writer accused of placing the illegal wagers was fired and the matter was turned over to law enforcement.

Contact Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Follow @RickVelotta on Twitter.

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