UK Gambling Commission Takes Fast Stand
UK online operators are already under renewed assault from the regulators, and the year has barely got off to a start. The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) posted a notice on Friday stating they had “begun investigations into 17 online operators, and are considering whether five of these require a license review.”
The regulator declined to mention those under investigation, but mentioned that the investigations were prompted by the serious nature of their findings, according to the UKGC’s thematic review of the online sector’s “approach to anti-money laundering and social responsibility.” A letter was also published and forwarded to all the UK online licensees by the UKGC, to review their own processes according to their findings.
The letter explains that the failings found in the review had raised concerns regarding the effectiveness of the Casino’s management and their mitigation of the risks to the licensing objectives.
It was stated that there was a shortage of ongoing monitoring of customer accounts, which money laundering and social responsibility issues pass by unreported. It was found that of the operator’s Money Laundering Reporting Officers (MLRO’s) who said that they had experience in the industry did, in fact, have no AML qualifications, and therefore were not able to give suitable explanations on the definition of money laundering.
It was also found that many of the MLRO’s could not provide sufficient information within the Suspicious Activities Reports (SAR’s), treating them as part of the end of the operator’s responsibility.
Of the licensees that were found to be lacking in the monitoring of customer activity regarding problems with gambling behavior, it was identified by the UKGC that there were instances where interaction should have been encouraged, yet no evidence points to operators having done so.
It was noted by Sarah Harrison, CEO of UKGC that online gambling was responsible for one-third of the UK’s market revenue, and that a close focus would be kept on the online sector. Operators were warned that the UKGC was “sharpening its enforcement knives” and that they would be relentless in the pursuit to make their vision a reality.
Last year saw a number of fines against operators in the six and seven figure margin, including an astonishing record penalty against 888 Holdings, to the amount of £7.8 million for failing those who had self-excluded themselves from 888. With the UKGC starting the year off as such online gambling operators are in for quite a year.