The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has investigated three online gambling companies for alleged failures in their social responsibility and money laundering protocols as part of the regulator’s efforts to raise compliance standards through stricter enforcement action.
The three online gambling operators – Games Account Network (GAN) PLC, BGO Entertainment Limited and NetBet Enterprises Limited – all saw their licences reviewed by the watchdog after a number of violations, including lack of customer protection compliance and failure to prevent criminal spend and money laundering.
As a result of the reviews, the UKGC has imposed new conditions on BGO Entertainment’s and GAN PLC’s licences, while all three companies will have to improve the aforementioned policies and procedures. The gambling operators will also have to make payments to fund the National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms‘ work. Furthermore, the actions of the individual Personal Management Licence holders in all three companies are also to be reviewed by the UK gambling regulatory body.
Games Account Network (GAN) PLC to Pay £146,000 as Part of Regulatory Settlement
The probe that was carried out by the UK Gambling Commission into GAN PLC’s operations found that in the period between August 2018 and September 2019 the gambling company was not in line with four licence conditions regarding anti-money laundering and social responsibility. It failed to display warnings on its website that underage gambling is a criminal offence and it had ineffective policies and procedures associated with anti-money laundering. GAN was also found to have managed its customer interactive guidance poorly.
More specifically, the UKGC found that in the abovementioned period the gambling operator failed to comply with Licence conditions 12.1.1(1), 12.1.1(2) and (3), 12.1.2 and with Social responsibility code provisions 3.2.11 and 4.1.
As a result of the probe, the gambling company will face some additional licence conditions in regard to ensuring the effectiveness and implementation of its social responsibility and anti-money laundering procedures, policies and controls. The operator will also have to make sure it provides some extra training for personal management licence holders and senior staff members.
A total of £146,000 will be paid by the gambling company to help the National Strategy aimed at reducing gambling-related harm in lieu of a financial penalty.
BGO Entertainment Limited Failed to Provide Effective Customer Protection and AML Measures
BGO Entertainment was found to have failed to make sure there were effective customer protection procedures and policies in place for customers who may have been showing signs of gambling addiction in the period from September 25th, 2018 to March 23rd, 2020. Furthermore, the UKGC’s investigation found some failures in the operator’s actions to make sure it had adequate anti-money laundering controls in place from September 25th, 2018 to July 21st, 2020.
On September 4th, 2019, the UKGC notified BGP Entertainment that it is to commence a review of its operating licence due to alleged anti-money laundering and social responsibility failures. The gambling company cooperated with the regulatory body throughout the compliance assessment and the following investigation.
The investigation found that BGO Entertainment failed to identify problem gambling behaviour under code provision 3.4.1(1) and to keep appropriate anti-money laundering controls in place under licence condition 12.1.1. As a result of the probe, the gambling regulatory body of the country will impose some additional conditions on the operator’s licence, such as carrying out some extra anti-money laundering and social responsibility checks on its top customers.
An overall amount of £2 million is to be paid by the gambling company to support the implementation of the National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms in place of a financial penalty.
NetBet Enterprises Will Have to Make Changes in Customer Protection Protocols
The company was found to have failed to comply with two licence conditions regarding social responsibility and anti-money laundering measures between November 20th, 2018 and May 29th, 2019. The violation of NetBet’s licence conditions included the failure to provide careful scrutiny of the customers’ source of funds documentation and failure to implement an efficient responsible gambling policy.
The investigation of the gambling watchdog found that the company failed to comply with Licence condition 12.1.1(3) and Social responsibility code provision 3.4.1.
Now, the UKGC will make sure NetBet makes several changes to its procedures, including providing more attention to the log-in time of its users as part of its responsible gambling protocols, implementation of automatic limits on customers showing early signs of gambling addiction and providing customers with the chance to access an affordability calculator.
The gambling company will have to pay £748,000 as funding for the country’s strategy aimed at reducing gambling-related harm instead of a further financial penalty.