The UK Gambling Commission have issued separate regulatory settlements equating to £4.5m to 4 different casino operators this week, for allegedly failing to offer essential support to vulnerable gamblers and effectively monitor and prevent money laundering activities.
The casinos which have been ordered to pay up are Betit Operations; £1.4m, MT Secure; £700,000, InTouch Games; £2.2m, and BestBet; £230,972.
According to an assessment, InTouch Games were ordered to pay for failing to meet AML customer risk assessments, as well as showing non-compliance towards the UKGC’s code of conduct for social responsibility over customer interactions. The regulator who investigated the case detailed that “there were weaknesses in its systems relating to how it managed its customers for AML and social responsibility purposes.”
Subsidiaries of Betit Operations; Gaming Innovation Group and MT Secure Trade were also instructed to pay a settlement of £700,000 while the mother brand must pay of £1.4m. Again, for failing to maintain essential AML protocols and carry out proper due diligence procedures towards customers.
Betit is also the parent operations for Kaboo.com and Highroller.com, of which the UKGC stated in their assessment how both businesses had not met the requirements when it came to key event notifications and personal management – with each one having to outsource an official and qualified money laundering officer.
The casino which got off the lightest was BestBet who have been asked to hand over £230,972. Although they were also discovered to have “weaknesses in its systems relating to how it managed its customers for AML and social responsibility purposes,” it wasn’t quite on the grand scale as its counterparts whose settlements were much higher.
Keeping a Watchful Eye
According to various sources, the investigations began in 2017, when the UKGC carried out thorough assessments on a multitude of operators around the country. Of the 123 which were investigated – 45 were conditioned to increase their standards while 5 operators had their gambling licenses revoked.
“We have been working hard to raise standards in the online industry to ensure that gambling is crime-free, and that the one in five people in Britain who gamble online every month can do so safely,” said Gambling Commission executive director, Richard Watson to press.
“But our work will not stop here. As a regulator, we will continue to set and enforce standards that the industry must comply with to protect consumers.”Gambling Commission executive director, Richard Watson
It’s not the first time that the UKGC have undergone a major crackdown on gambling and betting firms either. They also handed out close to £14 million in fines across 3 different companies back in November 2018. These were also due to the operators failing to take necessary steps in preventing money laundering and harmful gambling offenses.
“We expect operators to know their customers, and to ask the right questions to make sure they meet their anti-money laundering and social responsibility obligations,” Watson added.
Working alongside the UKGC were the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), which is responsible for aiding in investigations concerning sloppy business practices within the gambling industry. The reasoning behind the joint investigations was to highlight the lack of transparency and fairness towards customers receiving bonus promotions. It also uncovered the firms concerning approach towards delaying and releasing customer winnings.
Others Ratted Out As A Result
Some of the UK’s most prolific gambling operators have also faced cautions and been instructed to make considerable policy changes following the results of the investigation; William Hill, Ladbrokes, PT Entertainment and Progress Play were just some of the businesses which faced harsh criticism for neglecting the same protocols as their competitors.
The UKGC’s executive director, Paul Hope as well as the CMA senior director, George Lusty both signed a letter after the investigation.
It stated “Our joint work provided a sharp focus on aspects of online gambling and exposed significant shortcomings within the sector that had undermined consumer trust and confidence. The Commission mandated that all gambling firms would need to comply with the requirements set out in the published undertakings, not just those firms that agreed to them.
“The findings from this work, and our expectations of you, have been well publicized, and all gambling firms should, by now, have amended their terms and practices to meet the requirements set out in the undertakings.”
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