UKGC Fines Buzz Bingo $1M over AML, Social Responsibility Breaches

The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) announced on Thursday that it took regulatory action against Buzz Group Ltd operating as Buzz Bingo.

UK Gambling Regulator Slams Buzz Bingo with a $1M Fine

Citing an investigation, the regulator claimed that the operator breached money laundering, as well as social responsibility rules. Thus, it imposed a £780,000 ($1,038,820) fine against Buzz Bingo. The UKGC explained that besides the fine, the operator received a formal warning regarding the failures.

According to the gambling watchdog, Buzz Bingo breached the AML and social responsibility rules between October 2019 and December 2020. UKGC’s executive director, Helen Venn, revealed that the Commission expects all operators to follow strictly the implemented policies and procedures, ensuring gambling is safe and crime-free.

As a regulator we expect all operators to effectively implement policies and procedures which make gambling safe and crime-free.

Helen Venn, Executive Director at UKGC

She acknowledged each of the operators must be aware that frequent checks are being conducted to ensure compliance with the rules. In conclusion, Venn outlined that if the UKGC finds breaches of the established rules and policies, it takes action immediately.

The Watchdog Describes the AML and Social Responsibility Breaches

The Commission said that Buzz Bingo breached anti-money laundering rules by “being over-reliant on open source or anecdotal information” related to source of funds (SOF) checks. According to its investigation, the operator’s staff relied on verbal assurances from clients during such interactions.

Additionally, the UKGC said that the operator received multiple alerts before suspending a client’s account over AML suspicions. An example which the commission pointed out relates to a client that raised nine financial alerts before action was taken by the operator. The watchdog also found that the operator didn’t keep sufficient records regarding AML interactions with its consumers.

In terms of social responsibility failures, the UKGC said that the operator’s financial triggers were set too high, which was insufficient to identify at-risk consumers. Citing its investigation, the Commission said one user deposited £22,400 ($29,832) in only 5 days. However, during that time, the user wasn’t contacted by Buzz Bingo.

Moreover, the UKGC said that the operator did not interact sufficiently with “customers who gambled aggressively over short periods of time.” As an example, the Commission identified a user who deposited and lost £12,400 ($16,514) in only 6 days. During the period, the operator interacted only by noting that the customer was “coping well in COVID-19.” Last but not least, the UKGC found that the operator’s staff did not interact sufficiently with users asking them if they feel in control or discussing responsible gambling tools.

Protecting Its Users Remains a Key Priority for Buzz Bingo

In a statement, Buzz Bingo’s chief operating officer of digital, Dominic Mansour, explained that the UKGC’s fine relates to “legacy issues that have now been addressed.” He outlined that protecting the players has been a part of Buzz Bingo’s core values. Moreover, Mansour said that the company remains fully committed to meeting the highest standards of compliance.

Buzz Bingo is fully committed to ensuring it meets the highest standards of compliance across its digital platform, including its anti-money laundering and social responsibility obligations.

Dominic Mansour, Chief Operating Officer, Digital at Buzz Bingo

According to him, Buzz Bingo has taken the necessary steps to ensure full compliance. Mansour added that the current policies and procedures are in line with all regulations. In conclusion, he revealed that to improve continuously player protection, Buzz Bingo has increased its investment related to risk and compliance processes.

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