Online gambling’s reputation continues to be dragged through the mud this November, as the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) this morning confirms that it had imposed further action on two UK-licensed operators for failing ‘to prevent money laundering and keeping consumers safe from gambling-related harms’.
As previously reported this month, Daub Alderney, a subsidiary of London-AIM listed Stride Gaming was fined £7.1 million, for several failings on player protections and breaches of UK money laundering policies.
Adding to the sector’s November failings, today the UKGC confirms that it has further sanctioned a £5.58 million financial penalty for Malta-based Casumo, running alongside a £1 million payment in lieu of a financial penalty for Malta counterpart Videoslots.
Updating sector stakeholders, Neil McArthur, UKGC Chief Executive, stated a harsh tone to industry leadership: “I hope today’s announcement will make all online casino operators sit up and pay attention, as our investigations found that a large number of operators and their senior management were not meeting their obligations.
“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.”
Further actions have seen CZ Holdings surrender its licence after a licence review had been commenced. Nine other operators have been issued with Advice to Conduct letters and a further six are still under investigation.
Stating its intent to clean-up online gambling, the Commission warns that nine other operators have been issued with ‘Advice of Conduct’ letters, in addition to a further six companies which have been placed under investigation.
Supporting its November penalty packages, the UKGC informs that it has taken regulatory action against the individuals responsible for the operator failings, with three ‘Personal Licence Holders (PMLs)’ forced to surrender their licenses, whilst four have been issued with a warnings, and two have been served with ‘Advice as to Conduct notices’.
Jeremy Wright, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) warned industry incumbents that the government department stood by the commission’s tougher standards on online gambling and player protections adding:
“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.
“There are robust requirements to safeguard players and prevent money-laundering which all businesses must adhere to if they wish to operate in the British market. I am pleased to see the Gambling Commission taking the strongest possible action when companies fail to meet their obligations.”
A spokesperson for Videoslots added: “We confirm that Videoslots has entered a regulatory settlement with the Gambling Commission of Great Britain to conclude a review of our operating licence. Their investigations were part of a thematic review by the regulator into AML and responsible gambling compliance in the remote gambling industry.
“We are pleased that the Gambling Commission recognises that we were open and transparent from the outset of their investigation and fully cooperative throughout.
“We accept there were weaknesses in our systems relating to how we managed our customers for anti-money laundering and social responsibility purposes, and have taken proactive and timely action to address all the issues identified.
“We have agreed to make a payment in lieu of a financial penalty, which will go to a National Responsible Gambling Strategy project or projects to pay for research and treatment, as determined appropriate to address the risk of harmful gambling and we have already started putting the lessons learned into practice.”