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Compliance Updates

UKGC Imposes £9.4M Fine on 888 UK Limited Over Social Responsibility and AML Failures

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The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has imposed a fine of £9.4 million on 888 UK Limited for social responsibility and anti-money laundering failures.

888 UK Limited, which operates 78 websites including 888.com, has also received an official warning and will have to undergo extensive independent auditing.

The penalty package marks the second time 888 has faced an enforcement action by the UKGC who in 2017 ordered the FTSE250 operator to pay £7.8 million due to its failure to protect vulnerable customers.

Andrew Rhodes, Chief Executive of the UKGC, said: “The circumstances of the last enforcement action may be different but both cases involve failing consumers – and this is something that is not acceptable.

“Today’s fine is one of our largest to date, and all should be clear that if there is a repeat of the failures at 888 then we have to seriously consider the suitability of the operator to uphold the licensing objectives and keep gambling safe and crime-free.

“Consumers in Britain deserve to know that when they gamble, they are participating in a leisure activity where operators play their part in keeping them safe and are carrying out checks to ensure money is crime-free.”

Social responsibility failures included:

  • not effectively identifying players at risk of harm because their policies determined financial checks should be carried out after a customer had deposited £40,000
  • not carrying out a customer interaction with a customer who lost £37,000 in a six week period during the Covid-19 pandemic
  • not taking into account the Commission’s formal guidance on customer interaction
  • giving a customer they knew was an NHS worker earning £1400 a month a monthly deposit cap of £1300
  • most of the interactions conducted predominately consisted of an email just detailing the responsible gambling tools and did not require a customer response
  • during a Commission assessment, there was no evidence of the operator proactively placing restrictions on accounts where social responsibility concerns were raised
  • not ensuring that if a customer has multiple accounts those accounts are managed for customer interaction holistically and financial limits can be implemented across all accounts. In one example, a customer had one of his 11 accounts restricted because of Source of Funds (SOF) concerns, but he was allowed to open three more accounts and continue gambling.

Money laundering failures included:

  • implementing a policy where customers were allowed to deposit £40,000 before carrying out SOF checks
  • accepting verbal assurances from customers as to employment income and being reliant on open-source information to validate SOF
  • not setting out which documents should be requested as part of SOF checks
  • allowing one customer to spend £65,835 in just 5 months without SOF checks being carried out
  • not effectively implementing its own policies which stated that customers have 10 days to present SOF documentation before their account was restricted. In one case a customer’s SOF were not requested until three weeks after the 10 day trigger and lost £15,000 during that period.

Compliance Updates

Smarkets Fined £630,000 for AML and Social Responsibility Failings

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The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has handed a £630,000 fine to betting exchange Smarkets after identifying a series of anti-money laundering and social responsibility failings, including letting a player deposit a six-figure sum without appropriate checks.

According to UKGC, Smarkets allowed customers to gamble without carrying out sufficient source-of-funds checks, while the operator was also found to have failed to identify and interact with customers at risk of experiencing harm.

Specific examples published by the Commission included one customer being allowed to deposit £395,000 during a four-month period, without appropriate source of funds checks being carried out by Smarkets.

The Commission also highlighted a case where an individual was able to transfer significant levels of funds between accounts without scrutiny or source-of-funds checks.

Sarah Gardner, Commission Deputy CEO, said: “This case was identified through compliance checks and once again highlights how we will take action against gambling operators who fail their customers.

“Our investigation into Smarkets unearthed a variety of failures where customers were put at risk of gambling harm.

“It was obvious that poor systems and processes were in place which contributed to these breaches, driven by the company’s failure to effectively implement its policies and controls.”

The operator has also received a formal warning and will undergo an audit to ensure it is effectively implementing its anti-money laundering and social responsibility policies, procedures and controls, in line with section 117(1)(b) of the Gambling Act 2005.

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Openbox Gaming offers gateway to Asia

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Openbox Gaming offers gateway to Asia
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New provider will deliver fresh content opportunitues to both operators and suppliers

Openbox Gaming, a fast-growing distributor of iGaming content across Asia and other markets, has been issued an IOM OGRA Software Supplier licence by the Isle of Man Gambling Supervision Commission (GSC).

Having secured the Software Supplier licence, one of the industry’s newest iGaming distributors with a unique USP will be in a position to supply a portfolio of online casino games from a variety of internal and external suppliers, to licensed B2B gaming partners and B2C operators.

Richard Hogg, CEO of Openbox Gaming, commented: “We are excited to be able to continue in our mission to deliver gaming content to regulated jurisdictions worldwide and see this as a major step in achieving those objectives. We selected the Isle of Man Gambling Supervision Commission due to its established and proven reputation and its robust licensing process, which provides the ideal platform for our expansion into regulated markets.”

Tony Ure, Head of eGaming, Digital Isle of Man added: “It is a pleasure to welcome Openbox Gaming to the Island. Ensuring that the Island has a supportive ecosystem for gaming companies to operate their business, whilst maintaining our reputation as a highly regulated jurisdiction that prides itself on player protection is key to continuing the growth of this sector on the Isle of Man. I wish Openbox Gaming every success with their future ventures.”

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Compliance Updates

PopOK Gaming Has Received a Certificate for Georgia

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PopOK Gaming Has Received a Certificate for Georgia
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The innovative iGaming developer and service provider PopOK Gaming is now certified to offer its games in Georgia.

PopOK Gaming now extends its iGaming activities to Georgia as well. This way, local players will have access to our engaging games already loved by many. 18 games, such as Yummy, Lost Treasure, Diamond Flash, 20 Hot Bar, Sultan’s Tale, Los Apaches and others, will bring a breath of fresh air to all players and make their leisure more colourful, tasty and enjoyable.

PopOK Gaming’s local partners will surely get a lot of benefits from this, being able to deliver certified games to their customers. The gain is totally worth it, with the clear potential to drive high traffic to operators’ websites and greatly contribute to their business growth.

Regarding this certificate acquisition PopOK Gaming CEO, Karen Gulkanyan said, “Since iGaming is regulated strictly in Georgia, it’s a huge step forward to deliver our games to the Georgian audience. The path is not easy, yet we are full of hope that our lucrative solutions will immediately appeal to the regional players and increase business revenue for partners, laying the foundation for long-term cooperation”.

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