UKGC Orders 3 Operators to Pay Up for Problem Gambling Failures
Never one to shy away from introducing new rules or making sure operators adhere to existing regulations, the United Kingdom Gambling Commission has this week concluded its investigation into the problem gambling measures of BGO Entertainment, GAN, and NetBet.
In all three cases, the operators were found to have failed to apply adequate measures to prevent problem gambling or money laundering. Such measures include checking IDs, asking for confirmation on sources of funds, and confirming that customers’ betting patterns match their stated salary or income.
The first operator in the firing line was BGO Entertainment and its main BGO brand. The UKGC previously fined said operator £300,000 ($388,000) for misleading advertising back in 2017.
This time, the Channel Islands-based company will be shelling out £2 million to problem gambling help groups. The company was found to have ignored such gambling patterns as:
· A £100,000 deposit from a customer with a history of blocks and a stated income of £20k per year.
· Another customer who went from £100 in deposits over six months to £106,000 in 19 days but wasn’t questioned about their change in income or gambling habits.
· A customer who requested problem gambling support via live chat at 1 am but didn’t receive any response until 24 hours later in the form of a stock email.
BGO will now be required to audit the accounts of the top 125 customers in terms of spend, including full income assessments and anti-money laundering checks.
The UKGC identified “systemic failings” in BGO’s anti-money laundering systems, which should automatically flag up significant changes in any player’s gambling patterns.
The next operator to fall foul of UKGC rules was GAN and its WinStar Casino brand.
Its infractions include “insufficient assessment” of a new customer depositing large amounts of money via cryptocurrency and the use of advertisements that may be seen as appealing to kids.
In one case, it was found GAN accepted documents in a different name from the account holder during income assessment checks.
GAN has been ordered to forfeit nearly $50,000 in revenue gained through advertisements targeting minors. It will also need to contribute £100,000 ($129,000) to the UKGC’s new project – the National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms.
Lastly, we have NetBet. This brand is owned by Malta-based Cosmo Gaming Company LTD. The UKGC’s report found NetBet had failed to recognize problem gambling patterns among many customers, including those who suddenly upped their gambling time considerably – regardless of their deposit levels.
Some financial assessments were performed incorrectly, with the casino accepting out-of-date or incorrect documents.
NetBet has been told to pay up just shy of £750,000 ($970,000) to the UKGC’s partner Harm Reduction charities.
Richard Watson, the UKGC’s Chief Executive Officer, said that all these steps were to “protect consumers from harm and treat them fairly, through our tough and proactive compliance and enforcement work.”
While any steps to avoid problem gambling are to be lauded, a culture of tough regulation is unlikely to make the UK market any more attractive for potential investors or brands that are struggling right now.
Just last week, one of Europe’s biggest operators, The Betsson Group, announced the closure of eight of their nine UK-facing casino brands to British customers – including its flagship Betsson Casino.
The operator cited “significant changes in the UK’s regulatory framework” that made things “not sustainable with the Group’s current UK setup” as one of the reasons for the closure.
For the latest information on the UKGC’s regulatory activities, plus much more from the online casino sector all over the world, keep checking our pages!