UKGC Issues Another $17.8 Million in Online Gambling FinesDecember 4, 2018 7:28 am
The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) continues to keep a close eye on any operator failing to adhere to the strict rules governing the country’s online casino industry. On Thursday, the regulator subsequently levied hefty fines totaling £13.95 million ($17.8m) on three firms for not upholding their responsibility ‘to prevent money laundering and keeping consumers safe from gambling-related harms’.
This includes Daub Alderney being fined £7.1 million ($9.2m), Casumo receiving a £5.58 million financial penalty, and Videoslots being hit with a £1 million penalty package. After announcing the news, Neil McArthur, UKGC Chief Executive, stated:
“It is not enough to have policies and procedures in place. Everyone in a gambling business must understand its policies and procedures and take responsibility for properly applying them. 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.”
Daub Alderney Tops Offenders List
Leading the list of offenders was Daub Alderney, a subsidiary of online bingo operator Stride Gaming which also owns Kitty Bingo and Lucky Pants Bingo. The UKGC first launched an investigation into the business last year after a corporate assessment found that the operator had breached its license conditions concerning undertaking the appropriate level of risk assessment for its customers.
In addition to falling short of social responsibility codes of practice, the UKGC also ruled that Daub Alderney had breached anti-money laundering policies. After the regulator’s initial assessment, Daub Alderney carried out an audit of all their customer accounts with deposits in excess of £50,000, and discovered that 742 of them had no acceptable information available concerning the source of their funds. It has since closed all those accounts where the required information proved unobtainable.
Daub Alderney has also had some extra conditions attached to its UK gambling license. This includes the need to recruit a qualified money laundering specialist with a Personal Management License, and ensuring that all of its key management and control staff are provided with outsourced anti money laundering training.
Malta-Based Firms Fined
Two Malta-based companies also received massive fines, namely Casumo and Videoslots.
Casumo was found deficient in its anti-money laundering systems, including failing to establish a compliance department, and failing to train its staff in AML business practices. It was subsequently hit with a huge £5.85 million fine.
Videoslots, on the other hand, got off relatively cheap with just a £1 million penalty. The operator’s main failings included a deposit system which didn’t carry out sufficient Know Your Customer (KYC) checks until deposits exceeded £2,000. This was seen as putting its limited means customers at risk. Nevertheless, adequate checks were also lacking for its high roller clientele.
These three operators were not the only businesses to fall foul of the UKGC, though. CZ Holdings, for instance, was also the target of an investigation but ultimately decided to surrender its license rather than wait for a result. In the meantime, a further six operators are currently under investigation by the UK regulator.
Furthermore, ten individuals were admonished by the UKGC, including three individuals having their licenses to serve as a gambling company director revoked. Meanwhile, four individuals have been issued warnings, while three others are currently under investigation. Commenting upon the recent wave of fines, Jeremy Wright, the secretary of state for the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, stated:
“Any online operator that thinks it can ignore its duty to protect players should take note today – there will be consequences. Protecting vulnerable consumers is our prime concern, and it must be the priority for gambling operators too.”
Hardening Its Stance
The UKGC has taken an increasingly more stringent approach to gambling companies over the past couple of years, especially as rates of problem gambling continue to cause concern in the country. In November 2017, for example, Ladbrokes Coral was hit with a £2.3 million fine, while this February William Hill was ordered to pay £6.2 million. 888, however, holds the record after being penalized £7.8 million in 2017 for “outrageous” failings.