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Compliance Updates

Norwegian Gaming Regulator Lottstift Orders BML Group to Leave Market

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Norwegian Gaming Regulator Lottstift Orders BML Group to Leave Market
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The Norwegian Gaming Authority Lottstift has ordered BML Group to stop offering gambling services to Norwegian players.

The regulator has notified the Malta-based group that it found its brands, which include Betsson, Betsafe, Nordicbet, Norgesautomaten and CasinoEuro, were offering gambling and lottery without a licence. It said the group had been using sites with Norwegian names and symbols and had marketed them on Norwegian television.

It said: “Although BML Group’s gambling licence is provided by the Maltese authorities, the illegal gaming offer takes effect in Norway by the company offering the games on the internet, inviting players in the Norwegian market to participate, and allowing Norwegians to register as players.”

“The Lottery Act and the Gambling Act also apply to gambling from abroad when the offer is directed at Norway. The Norwegian Lotteries Authority’s work with the payment service ban has also revealed that BML Group Limited is actively seeking to circumvent the Norwegian ban on arranging payment to and from foreign gambling companies.”

Under Norway’s monopoly system, the state-controlled company Norsk Tipping is the only operator licensed to offer online casino games.

Lottstift added in its letter to BML: “If the illegal relationship does not cease after the decision has been made, the Norwegian Lotteries Authority will consider notifying coercive fines that run until the illegal gambling offer has been rectified or terminated.

“A coercive fine is not a punishment, and the obligation to pay a coercive fine is not depending on guilt, but is triggered when an illegal relationship occurs, and should be set so high that it does not pay financially for the person responsible not to comply with the decision.”

Compliance Updates

Regulatory action against EU Lotto

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Regulatory action against EU Lotto
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A gambling business must pay a £760,000 fine and undergo extensive independent auditing after a Commission investigation revealed social responsibility and money laundering failures.

EU Lotto – which operates the lottoland.co.uk website – has also received a formal warning for the failures which occurred between October 2019 and November 2020.

Social responsibility requirement failures included neglecting to take into account the Commission’s formal customer interaction guidance.

Examples included:

  • customers frequently changing deposit limits not being considered as markers of harm
  • no evidence of suitable financial and affordability assessments being conducted to identify whether a customer was being harmed or at risk of harm
  • customer interactions predominately consisted of an email detailing the responsible gambling tools available and did not require a customer response – there was little evidence of interactions being adapted depending on the extent of potential harm.

Anti-money laundering failures included:

  • not effectively reviewing or analysing bank statements provided by customers to prove address
  • not restricting customer accounts following source of funds (SoF) requests
  • allowing customers to register third-party debit cards (such as those in a different name to the customer) to their account
  • relying too heavily on ineffective threshold triggers and generally lacking information regarding how much a customer should be allowed to spend based on income, wealth or any other risk factors.

Helen Venn, Commission Executive Director, said: “This case, like other recent enforcement action, was the result of planned compliance activity. All operators should be very aware that we will not hesitate to take firm action against those who fail to meet the high standards we expect for consumers in Britain.”

Read EU Lotto’s full penalty on the Commission’s regulatory sanctions register.

 

Nigel Birrell, CEO of Lottoland commented: “Lottoland is fully committed to ensuring the highest standards of compliance, including its anti-money laundering and social responsibility obligations in all of the jurisdictions in which it operates. The Gambling Commission fine was related to legacy issues around some of our compliance controls which have now been addressed. Lottoland  has extensive compliance measures in place and we are confident that our current policies and processes meet all relevant standards. 

Remedial action taken included significantly increased investment in our compliance function, more than doubling headcount, alongside a host of other initiatives including bringing in third party support, enhancing training and a review of key policies. In addition, we  recently committed to building our individual processes into an automated system to improve the system even further. “

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SJM Expects Casino Licence Renewal for Ten Years

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SJM Holdings is expecting that the authorities will extend its gaming licence beyond the current expiration date of June 26, 2022. It expects the extension won’t be for twenty years but for around ten years.

During an investor meeting, the company said that the concession length would be longer than five years yet more limited than 20 years.

The current city’s gaming laws state that licences can be extended for up to five years from the original 20-year term. SJM Holdings and other operators have attended a public consultation session and asked for more information on the government’s proposed changes to the city’s gaming laws.

Casino operators also said the government should give more details on the proposal that gaming concessionaires should be part held by a Macau resident.

Buddy Lam Chi Seng, Galaxy Entertainment senior vice president of public relations, asked if the possibility of electing “delegates” to Macau’s gaming concessions to have a “greater checking” limit on the activity of the gaming firms could have a potential impact on gaming firms’ daily operations.

Ku Mei Leng, chief-of-office of Macau’s Secretary for Economy and Finance, answered that the public authority didn’t have any “predetermined positions” on the themes, as it was still collecting opinions from the industry regarding the proposed changes.

He noted that a delegate system is already used to monitor other forms of public concession. According to previous reports, government delegates would be sent to gaming concessionaires to enable the direct monitoring of daily operations.

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Compliance Updates

UKGC Responds to Independent Inquiry into BetIndex

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romaniajournal.ro
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The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has announced that it will make changes to the way it regulates innovative digital gambling products.

The announcement follows publication of the Independent Review of the Regulation of BetIndex Limited. The Review highlighted areas where the approach of both the Commission and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) could be improved.

Andrew Rhodes, CEO of UKGC, said: “No amount of explanation of what happened to Football Index will take away the justifiable hurt and anger its customers are experiencing having lost, in some cases, life-changing amounts of money when the gambling company collapsed.

“We accept and agree that we should have drawn a line under our efforts sooner, but this does not mean those customers would not have lost money in the event of the BetIndex company collapsing. Throughout this case we sought the best outcome for consumers within the scope of our regulatory powers.

“The review provides a number of helpful recommendations for how both regulators can work better together and for how our regulatory approach deals with novel products.”

He continued: “In recent years we have seen an increase in the complexity of business models and product offerings. The lines between what is gambling and other types of products, such as financial services or computer games, has become increasingly blurred and no longer neatly fit into existing statutory definitions of gambling.

“We have already acted on a number of the recommendations in the report. This has included more explicitly including novel products as one of the factors we consider as part of our assessment of a gambling company’s risk. We have also further strengthened the Memorandum of Understanding we have with the FCA so that issues that blur the lines between financial services and gambling are escalated and actioned more rapidly.

“Our actions were always focused on trying to protect consumers while we sought to bring the operator into compliance with regulations. This does not mean however that those customers would not have lost money in the event of the BetIndex company collapsing.”

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