William Hill U.S. Fined $100K For Sports Wagering Platform Flaws

The Nevada Gaming Commission on Thursday fined William Hill $100,000 for a series of violations related to flaws in the sportsbook’s sportsbook system.

The breaches stem from a system glitch in William Hill’s sports and cashless betting system, which resulted in thousands of erroneous duplicate bets being broadcast on the platform over a seven-year period ending in December 2021. NGC approved the fine at Thursday’s hearing after William Hill reached an agreement with the Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB) on Aug. 17.

During the period under review, the bug in William Hill’s CBS Race and Sportsbook System caused the platform to process more than 50,000 incorrect duplicate bets, resulting in approximately $1.3 million in customer losses. Although a bettor intended only to place a bet on a specific event through the system, the error resulted in erroneous duplication of that bet, Michael Somps, a Nevada assistant attorney general, said at Thursday’s hearing.

In all, as of December 2021 in Nevada, the system processed about 42,000 incorrect double losing bets and 13,000 double winning bets, according to an internal investigation by William Hill. The accidentally winning bets resulted in patronage winnings of approximately $2 million, according to William Hill.

The settlement sparked a complaint against several parties, most notably William Hill US Holdco Inc. and William Hill Nevada II, the maker of the CBS betting system. Caesars Entertainment completed a $4 billion acquisition of William Hill’s US division in April 2021, a few months after announcing the proposed deal in October 2020.

In laying out the underlying causes of the betting system’s shortcomings, the comparison highlights several areas that Caesars found lacking, said Jeffrey Hendricks, deputy general counsel for regulation and compliance at Caesars Entertainment.

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“That is not the standard that we set operationally. That’s not the standard that we set from a compliance perspective,” Hendricks told the commission.

Peak traffic, bad duplicates

Sometime in June 2021, William Hill found it needed to fix the bug in the CBS betting system after the operator received multiple customer complaints, according to NGCB. While the subsequent investigation did not determine the root cause of the problem, the company did state that the system was most prone to accidentally posting duplicate bets at times of high traffic.

The issue arose when a customer attempted to place a bet on their mobile app, and internal investigation subsequently found an identical bet placed on the same event, with the same odds and dollar amount, within 60 seconds of the original bet, William Hills.

At peak times, William Hill claimed that the system would be heavily loaded, resulting in a number of bets being shelved. Unnerved by the long processing time, an impatient bettor could attempt to place a bet, exit the app before the bet is fully processed, and then return to the app to place an identical bet.

For example, if a bettor placed a $5 bet on a specific event, Hendricks said the error resulted in a second identical $5 bet being deducted from the customer’s account. William Hill subsequently attempted to fully refund customers who accidentally placed double-lost bets, but were unable to locate all customers, Hendricks added.

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When asked by the commission how much of the $1.3 million in customer losses was returned, Caesars replied that the company had not determined the exact amount. At the same time, William Hill did not cancel the double winning bets.

When a William Hill bettor contacted the operator’s customer service team ahead of customer complaints in June 2021 alleging a double lost bet, the bettor was likely refunded the amount of the double bet, according to NGCB.

To react slowly

When the system eventually stabilised, any bets still in the queue – including the additional identical bets – would still be processed by the system, the complaint said. While William Hill took remedial action to address the issue, the NGCB found that the sportsbook operator did not fully identify the cause of the issue or fully mitigate the issue.

Nevada Gaming Commissioner Ogbonna Brown pressed Hendricks on the internal investigation’s schedule. Although William Hill implemented a system patch in June this year to fix the double bet problem, it took the NGCB another three months to become aware of the flaws. According to the complaint, NGCB first learned of a customer who had had a dispute with William Hill in September. Another month passed before William Hill began the internal investigation.

When the fault was discovered, the NGCB was not immediately notified by the system’s manufacturer, Somps noted. William Hill Nevada II, the manufacturer, failed to notify the board within three business days of noticing the issue under Nevada Gaming Commission Rule 14.260, Somps added.

Transition to the Liberty tech platform

Last month, EVP of Caesars Entertainment, Eric Hession, stated that the plan is to transition all of Caesars’ branded apps and sportsbook to the company’s Liberty tech stack by the end of the year.

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When Caesars Entertainment rebranded its online sportsbook division in August 2021, the company used Liberty technology to power mobile sportsbook operations in eight states. Caesars is in the process of transitioning to Liberty, its internal, integrated tech stack, in several other jurisdictions, including Nevada.

The breaches at hand happened on William Hill’s legacy tech stack, which was used by the company well before the 2021 acquisition, according to an industry source.

During the course of the investigation, Caesars was unable to identify every duplicate bet from the program’s 2015 life cycle, Hendricks said. However, he stressed that Caesars worked as diligently as possible last fall to update the NGCB on the status of the investigation. Nonetheless, Commissioner Steven B. Cohen criticized respondents for not promptly reporting the matter on numerous occasions.

A separate investigation by William Hill found that a ticket writer at the Red Garter Hotel & Casino in West Wendover, Nevada, made multiple illegal bets using money from his bank drawer. William Hill discovered a $3,350 cash shortage at the site in April. The employee was terminated and the matter escalated to law enforcement, Caesars said Thursday.

William Hill admitted to every single allegation contained in the lawsuit in last month’s determination to settle with the state. Upon reaching sports grip On Thursday, a spokesman for Caesars Sportsbook declined to comment.

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