The UK Gambling Commission does not always sanction online casino operators, but when it does, it shows no mercy.
It’s been two years since the Gambling Commission issued a consultation to amend its enforcement policy. The new strategy, effective since July 2017, is meant to put the consumer first by severely sanctioning operators breaching gambling regulations.
Turning words into action, an investigation followed, leaving no less than 17 “suspicious” operators holding their breaths while waiting for a verdict. Mainly focusing on how operators fight money laundering and prevents problem gambling, the UKGC’s ongoing investigation dropped the hammer on four casino companies so far.
Three companies were fined close to £14m in penalties as consequence for failing to prevent money laundering effectively and detecting problem gambling to protect consumers. Daub Alderney was first ordered to pay £7.1m to the Commission, followed by Casumo Services Limited for £5.85m and finally Videoslots Limited, with £1m to pay.
A fourth company, CZ Holdings, surrendered its gambling licence altogether since the investigation started. Another six operators are still under examination, while nine more have received Advice to Conduct letters.
The Commission didn’t stop at warning the companies misbehaving; its regulatory actions also affect individuals responsible for these shortcomings. Four Personal Licence Holders have received warnings, two were issued Advice to Conduct letters and three more have already surrendered their licences. More could become targets of this new strategy since the investigation remains open.
In an announcement, the Commission’s CEO Neil McArthur declared
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.
Focusing on individual responsibilities and taking personal ownership, Mr McArthur added:
Anyone in a position of authority needs to be aware that we will not only act against businesses when we take regulatory action - we will also hold individuals to account where they are responsible for an operator’s failings.
While the Commission has never been shy about issuing large penalties, these measures come with a clear message:
operators be warned, we will not tolerate missteps within our jurisdiction. As threatening as it sounds, senior government officials seem to praise this approach, as exemplified by Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Jeremy Wright.
Quoted on the Gambling Commission’s website, Mr Wright declared:
Any online operator that thinks it can ignore its duty to protect players should take note today - there will be consequences. He further added:
I am pleased to see the Gambling Commission taking the strongest possible action when companies fail to meet their obligations.
On the dock, online casino giant Daub Alderney was said to be unwilling or unable to live up to its responsibilities to prevent money laundering. Lax due diligence processes, record keeping as well as the striking absence of proper training for staff members dealing with suspicious activity got the operator into hot water.
As if it wasn’t enough, a technical error on its sites enabled 73 self-excluded players to gamble despite having asked for their accounts to be suspended. Ultimately, the deposits made by these players were refunded by the company, but too little too late.
The other operators faced similar charges, neglecting to conduct proper verifications to prevent money laundering and terrorist activity.