UKGC Fines Aspers Stratford Casino Over Player Protection Failures

Aspers’ Stratford City Casino will pay a £652,500 fine and will give up a £78,233 profit due to its regulatory failures.

Aspers Failed to Enquire Customers Over Large Sums of Money

The UK Gambling Commission has imposed a £652,500 ($890,000) sanction to Aspers’ Stratford City Casino after an investigation found breaches of anti-money laundering (AML) and social responsibility obligations.

In December 2018, the Commission commenced a review of Aspers Stratford’s operating license following the tragic death by suicide of an individual shortly after visiting the London casino.

Huseyin Yaman, 37, lost £25,000 in one night on roulette and fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs) at Aspers Casino at the Westfield Shopping Centre in Stratford, east London. Yaman, who owned a stake in a Turkish supermarket, left the gambling venue in distress and later took his life in his north London apartment.

“The circumstances of the death were investigated by both the police and the coroner. As the regulator, we examined the casino’s management of the individual and found failings around the company’s anti-money laundering, social responsibility and customer interaction procedures.”

Neil McArthur, Chief Executive, UK Gambling Commission

Yaman spent £46,920 and £51,000 in cash at Aspers on 2 and 3 September 2017, respectively, without facing any enquiries on behalf of the casino. The businessman made additional cash purchases of £5,190, £5,660 and £6,100 between September and November 2018, with the last being made the day before their death.

The results of the investigation show incompliance with regulatory requirements, such as anti-money laundering, social responsibility and customer interaction policies and processes which allowed the individual to incur significant losses at the venue.

The Commission has issued a warning to Aspers Stratford for failures to comply with anti-money laundering processes, as well as breaches of customer interaction rules and cash desk policies. Apart from the financial sanction, Aspers Stratford has agreed to divest itself of the gross gambling yield to the sum of £78,233, which it accumulated as a result of its failings in relation to Yaman and another customer.

The UKGC Might Intervene With New Recommendations at a Later Stage

Aspers Stratford is required to carry out a follow-up independent audit of its policies and procedures within six months to ensure the improvements in policies are showing results. The Commission might demand the implementation of further recommendations if necessary.

McArthur added that the Commission will continue observing the case and highlighted the need for clear policies and their correct implementation by staff who are properly trained to detect harmful gambling-related behaviour.

FOBTs are often criticized due to the high prevalence of “problem gambling” among the users of such gambling machines. The British government reduced the maximum bet limit for FOBTs from £100 to £2 in April 2019.

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