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Compliance Updates

UKGC Imposes £780,000 Fine on Buzz Group

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Buzz Group, which operates buzzbingo.com, has been fined £780,000 by the UK Gambling Commission for failures relating to social responsibility and anti-money laundering procedures.

Buzz Group also received a formal warning for the failures which occurred between October 2019 and December 2020.

Social responsibility failures included: financial triggers not sufficiently identifying at-risk players as they were set too high. One customer was able to deposit £22,400 in five days without the operator conducting a meaningful interaction within that period.

Systems not sufficiently identifying at-risk players. Two customers won large amounts of money gambling, yet the operator failed to consider the increased risk of gambling harm to those customers despite the customers displaying high levels of spend.

Not carrying out effective customer interactions with customers who gambled aggressively over short periods of time. One customer deposited and lost £12,400 during a six-day period but the operator’s only record of a customer interaction simply stated customer was ‘coping well in COVID-19’once a decision to interact with a customer had been made staff did not always sufficiently follow the requirement of the operator’s own customer interaction procedure to check the customer was comfortable with their gambling levels, if they felt in control, and then discuss responsible gambling tools and support resources.

Anti-money laundering failures included: triggers prompting source of funds (SOF) checks being over reliant on open source or anecdotal information such as staff relying heavily on assurances provided verbally by customers during interactions.

In one instance the operator placed reliance on a large customer win as the SOF for the customer’s future gambling spend without considering that it might not be recycled winnings and that it may be the proceeds of crime

Multiple alerts needed to be activated before a customer AML interaction took place. One customer was able to hit nine financial alerts before their account was suspended pending an AML interaction. The operator keeping insufficient records of AML interactions with customers and it was often not clear what had been discussed during those interactions.

The case against Buzz Group Ltd, like other recent enforcement action, was the result of planned compliance activity.

Helen Venn, Commission Executive Director, said: “As a regulator we expect all operators to effectively implement policies and procedures which make gambling safe and crime-free. Every single gambling business should be aware that we do check that these are in place and are being adhered to. If they are not, we will take action.”

 

Dominic Mansour, Chief Operating Officer, Digital, Buzz Bingo commented:

“One of Buzz Bingo’s core values has always been to put players first and protect those that are vulnerable. Buzz Bingo is fully committed to ensuring it meets the highest standards of compliance across its digital platform buzzbingo.com, including its anti-money laundering and social responsibility obligations.

The fine from the Gambling Commission relates to legacy issues that have now been addressed. Buzz Bingo has reviewed and overhauled all its compliance measures and is confident that current policies and processes now meet the standards set. Moreover, Buzz Bingo has increased its current and ongoing investment to enhance all its risk and compliance processes to continually improve player protection.”

Australia

REGULATOR WARNS HIGHER FINES ON THE CARDS FOR ILLEGAL GAMBLING ADS

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REGULATOR WARNS HIGHER FINES ON THE CARDS FOR ILLEGAL GAMBLING ADS
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Online betting operators have been issued with more than $100,000 in fines over the past week as Liquor & Gaming NSW continues to take a zero-tolerance approach to the publication of illegal gambling inducements.

Most recently, online betting provider BetDeluxe has been fined $70,000 for publishing illegal gambling inducements after being prosecuted by Liquor & Gaming NSW.

This follows the successful prosecution of PointsBet, which was fined a total of $35,000 for publishing illegal gambling inducements last week, after receiving a $20,000 fine for the same offences in 2019.

Hospitality and Racing CEO, Anthony Keon said Liquor & Gaming NSW was continuing to pro-actively monitor online betting providers and it was completely unacceptable that seven bookmakers have been prosecuted on multiple occasions since 2018.

“Liquor & Gaming NSW will continue to actively pursue operators for illegal advertisements and advocate for the courts to issue higher penalties,” Mr Keon said.

“In 2018 the NSW Government introduced new laws to significantly increase penalties for wagering operators who are found guilty of promoting inducements to gamble, with maximum fines now set at $110,000 per offence for a corporation.

“Clearly some of these operators think gambling inducements are just the cost of doing business, but they are wrong, and they are pushing their luck. We will continue to bring these matters before the courts and seek higher penalties that reflect community expectations.”

In Downing Centre Local Court yesterday (18/5), BetDeluxe pleaded guilty to five offences that included 21 Facebook promotions for bonus bets on sports games and enhanced odds on horse racing.

In addition to the $70,000 in fines, BetDeluxe has also been ordered to pay $8,500 in legal costs. This is the first time the company has been prosecuted for this type of offence.

PointsBet pleaded guilty to two advertisements that included an Instagram promotion to get $50 back in bonus bets, similar to those it offered in 2019 on the Apple App Store, promising $100 cash back on certain bets.

“Prohibitions on gambling inducements are an important harm minimisation measure and the increase in maximum penalties, along with our continued prosecution action, should send a clear message to wagering operators about how seriously we view these matters,” Mr Keon said.

“Reoffenders run the risk of the higher range penalties, and more scrutiny, so let me be clear that patterns of poor compliance are not worth the trouble.

“We hope this is the first and last time we see BetDeluxe in court for gambling inducements.”

Since 2015, Liquor & Gaming NSW has successfully prosecuted 37 matters for prohibited gambling advertising, resulting in over $642,500 in fines, with nine betting providers currently before the courts.

 

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Compliance Updates

YGAM announced as the official charity partner for the VIXIO GamblingCompliance Global Regulatory Awards 2022

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YGAM announced as the official charity partner for the VIXIO GamblingCompliance Global Regulatory Awards 2022
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VIXIO GamblingCompliance is delighted to announce that the Young Gamers and Gamblers Education Trust (YGAM) will once again be the official charity partner for the VIXIO GamblingCompliance Global Regulatory Awards.

YGAM, which acted as the official charity partner for the 2020 and 2021 Global Regulatory Awards, is a national charity with a social purpose to inform, educate and safeguard young and vulnerable people against gambling and gaming harms. In recent years, YGAM has established itself as one of the leading charities delivering education programmes to help prevent harm and safeguard future generations.

Daniel Bliss, Director of External Affairs, YGAM, said: “We’re delighted to have been chosen by VIXIO to be the official charity partner to these awards for a third year. It provides us with a valuable platform to raise awareness of the work we do to achieve our social purpose. We’re looking forward to the event and the opportunity to network with a wide range of stakeholders.”

Since their launch in 2017, the independently adjudicated Global Regulatory Awards have become the biggest of their kind, recognising and celebrating those who demonstrate excellence in responsible gambling, and are growing in importance as the industry moves towards a stronger culture of compliance. Winning a prestigious award is a sign of excellence and can enhance your reputation as a leader in the field of compliance and safer gambling.

Nominations for the Global Regulatory Awards officially close on June 30, 2022. Submitting a nomination is free, quick and easier than ever before and is open to industry newcomers and veterans alike.

This year’s VIXIO GamblingCompliance Global Regulatory Awards ceremony will be held on November 30, 2022, and we will be returning to the prestigious De Vere Grand Connaught Rooms in Central London, the site of the 2021 ceremony where more than 250 senior industry professionals joined VIXIO to celebrate the achievements of that year’s star-studded class of winners.

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Baltics

Lithuanian Regulator Imposes Fine of €6789 on 7bet

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The Lithuanian Gambling Supervisory Authority has issued 7bet operator Amber Gaming with a fine of €6789 for breaching the national laws brought in last year regarding the promotion of gambling.

An investigation from the Commission found that on 13 October and 4 November in 2021, and also on 4 February this year, Amber Gaming published content on its website that the regulator said encouraged consumers to gambling.

The Commission highlighted a number of statements that could be seen as promotional and content intended to draw players to gambling with the operator’s 7bet brand.

These statements included “Online casino: free spins and casino bonus” and “For those who want a greater sense of excitement, 7bet offers live real-time casino games. It gives you even more chances to win”.

Ruling on the case, the Commission said the published information was “aimed at drawing attention to the company, its offer, persuading and encouraging persons to participate in the company’s games”.

This, the regulator said, was considered to encourage participation in games and therefore breached Article 10 (19) of the country’s Ali.

It was established that the published information was aimed at drawing attention to the company, its offer, persuading and encouraging persons to participate in the company’s games, which is considered to encourage participation in games, therefore, the company violated the requirements of Article 10 (19).

Amber Gaming was also warned that similar breaches or failure to remove any promotional content could result in the operator having its licence in the country suspended.

The operator does have the option to appeal the decision.

Lithuania’s ban on gambling promotion came into effect on 1 July 2021, on the 20th anniversary of the Lithuanian Gambling Commission’s formation.

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