A gambling company is set to incur a substantial £6 million penalty following an investigation by the UK Gambling Commission that exposed deficiencies in both their social responsibility and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) measures.
Gamesys Operations Limited, the operator of a dozen websites including ballycasino.co.uk, doublebubblebingo.com, and jackpotjoy.com, will also be subject to a third-party audit to verify the effective implementation of their anti-money laundering and safer gambling policies, procedures, and controls.
The Commission’s scrutiny, conducted during a compliance assessment in May 2022, brought to light the following social responsibility shortcomings:
- The failure to consistently identify customers at risk of gambling-related harm, which included an overreliance on checks that assessed whether a customer had a prior individual voluntary arrangement or had experienced bankruptcy or insolvency as an indicator of gambling-related harm. Additionally, their system of deposit limits did not promptly detect harm risks for some customers, with no red flags raised when one customer deposited £8,255 within three days of opening an account, another losing £5,968 within five weeks, and yet another losing £17,482 within just 34 days.
- Insufficient interaction with customers who may be at risk of or experiencing gambling-related harm. Examples cited include a solitary interaction with a customer after they had lost nearly £10,000, wherein the “responsible gambling interaction” actually involved recommending new games and promotions. In another case, there was only a single responsible gambling interaction with a consumer who lost £19,709 over a five-month period. Moreover, records of interactions, considerations, and decision rationales were frequently lacking in the required level of detail, despite being outlined in the Licensee’s responsible gambling procedures.
The Anti-Money Laundering failures identified encompassed:
- Circumstances in which certain customers managed to evade the Licensee’s AML triggers and thresholds, allowing them to spend significant sums without undergoing AML checks. For example, one customer deposited £14,585 over a 28-week period, another deposited £18,884 in just over six months, and a third deposited £34,280 in five and a half months.
- Inadequate customer due diligence and an excessive reliance on third-party information (such as internet research) or verbal assurances from customers, even in cases where substantial amounts were deposited. This included instances where one customer deposited over £25,000 in three months, another deposited over £58,000 in six months, and yet another deposited over £65,000 in six months.
- An insufficient “Reinvestment of winnings policy” that failed to adequately mitigate the risk that deposited funds could originate from illicit sources rather than legitimate winnings.
Kay Roberts, Executive Director of Operations, emphasized the regulator’s commitment to ensuring fairness, safety, and the prevention of criminal activities in the gambling industry. She stated, “Our focus as a regulator is to ensure that operators are employing policies and procedures which make gambling fair, safe, and crime-free. We take this responsibility extremely seriously, and whenever we find failures in policies and procedures, the business can expect significant regulatory action.”