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Nevada regulators consider $100K fine against William Hill

The Nevada Gaming Commission on Thursday will consider slapping the Caesars Entertainment Inc.-owned William Hill sportsbook with a $100,000 fine, following a four-count complaint filed in August by the Nevada Gaming Control Board.

The Control Board accused William Hill of violating gaming regulations by failing to promptly resolve a system failure that affected more than 50,000 bettors since 2015.

In the complaint signed Aug. 19, the Control Board alleged that the company’s CBS Race and Sports Book mobile wagering system produced duplicate wagers on some sports bets. When bettors complained to the company about the duplicate wagers in June 2021, the company failed to report it to regulators.

Control Board officials said they first learned of the problem in September 2021 through contact with a bettor who had a dispute with William Hill.

An attorney for William Hill signed a stipulation of settlement on the matter and agreed the company would pay a $100,000 fine. The settlement is expected to be formally accepted by the commission when it meets Thursday. Under terms of the settlement, William Hill waived the right to a public hearing on the charges.

A representative of the company did not respond to a request for comment.

The Control Board’s complaint said William Hill conducted an internal investigation of the duplicate wagers in October and November 2021. It determined that 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.

Before June 2021, in instances when a patron may have contacted customer service alleging an erroneous duplicate wager, the patron was likely 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.

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.

A fourth count of the complaint involved the board discovering that a William Hill sportsbook writer at the Red Garter Casino in West Wendover placed multiple illegal wagers with money from the book’s cash drawer.

The incident occurred on April 12 and 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. That alleged theft also wasn’t reported in a timely manner.

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

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