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Exclusive interview with Alex Henderson(Head of AML at The Ritz Hotel Casino), speaker at Prague Gaming Summit

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Dear readers and subscribers,

Thank you for following my interview series and for sharing these information with your colleagues and partners. If you would like to be featured in an upcoming interview, please send me an e-mail to [email protected] and I will happily get back to you!

Moving forward, I would like to introduce my latest interviewee, Alex Henderson, who is the current Head of AML at The Ritz Hotel Casino and also a speaker at our upcoming live event/conference in Prague.

Thank you for your time and I hope you will gain vital information needed for your business in regards to AML and AMLD 4.

I would like to thank you for spending time to answer our questions. First I would kindly ask you to shortly introduce yourself.

Alex: I am the current head of AML at one of the UK’s top Mayfair casinos as well as a trainer for the global leader in AML/social responsibility training for gambling operators (AML Gaming Solutions). I have worked for the past 7 years for the National Crime Agency as a financial investigator and within the AML expert witness team as well as within covert operations where I portrayed many roles within counter terrorism, drugs. The most relevant to my current career is that I portrayed the role of an international money launderer.

Would you please speak about the effects of AMLD 4 on the gambling industry in geneneral and in the UK in particular?

Alex: My opinion is that in general the 4th MLD has had little impact for some operators but major impact for many others (if they have made the appropriate changes). The main impact came from the requirement to “know your customers” better which for many land based operators it is not a huge change, as many of them already go a long way to know about their clientele. For many online operators this was a tough change as my opinion is that many operators do the bare minimum when it comes to due diligence. Overall, I think that many operators do not even have measures in place to comply with law from 2002 (proceeds of crime act 2002), so I would not expect those operators to be doing anything to comply with law that has been in place less than 10 months. The reason I say this is because many of the MLRO’s (money laundering reporting officer) or AML managers I speak with know very little about money laundering/financial crime or their roles and responsibilities and the relevant laws and regulations.

You advise large number of organisations with regards to their AML compliance programmes. According to your experience what are the most frequent problems, issues regarding this topic?

Alex: Lack of knowledge is number 1. I am not just referring to the lower level employees but with MLRO’s and AML managers, the level of knowledge sometimes scares me. I have met with MLRO’s who did not know how to input a SAR (Suspicious activity report), some did not know basic money laundering techniques and how to identify them… then these MLRO’s are entrusted to protect the business and oversee staff training, so it is effectively the blind leading the blind. I speak with some businesses who tell me that they are low risk for money laundering or that criminals do not use their business…. When I tell them that I myself have actually laundered money through their business or have spent criminal proceeds through their business they have a sudden change in attitude, which for me is a good thing. Many gambling employees have not been given the basic knowledge for preventing financial crime which is the fault of the operator. I enjoy giving staff this knowledge and empowering them to detect criminality and prevent those criminals using their businesses.

What social responsibilities does preventing money laundering include?

Alex: In many cases, social responsibility and AML go hand in hand. If an operator has good AML processes in place they will often detect problem gambling concerns and vice versa. We have seen in the recent enforcement action that when an operator is punished for their lapses in social responsibility they are also punished for their lapses in AML, this is because operators generally do not do enough to protect their customers. If an operator has done enough to determine a customer’s Source of Wealth (SOW) they should know when that customer is spending more than they can afford. Therefore if that customer is spending outside of their known income, an operator should be doing extra checks to determine if the customer is spending more, because they either have a gambling problem or they are spending more because they also have some illegitimate funds that have not previously been uncovered.

There are new regulations in this domain. Will you please speak about these and their effects?

Alex: Operators are expected to do more, and rightly so. The expectation from the regulator is that both remote and non-remote operators need to step up and start protecting customers. But this is difficult and causes a huge conflict of interest amongst operators; on one hand they are trying to run a profitable business, keep customers gambling and spending money, on the other hand they are expected to stop customer if they gamble too long or spend too much money. The punishment for not protecting customers is too soft in my opinion. The gambling commission should be taking licences and giving hefty fines, at the moment operators get away with doing very little to protect customers. Operators would do a lot more if they genuinely felt their licence was on the line or that they would be fined excessively. If we take the banking industry as an example, it took HSBC getting fined £250m for all the banks to start carrying out adequate AML due diligence, before the HSB fine banks always done the minimum because they knew any fine they received would be worth paying. I think the gambling commission is definitely moving in the right direction but they need to send out a clear message, the way to do that is to start making examples of operators.

What about the UK? Where is it heading with the new regulations?

Alex: I think the gambling commission is going to get tougher and tougher on operators until the operators eventually start looking after their customers. UK operators need to do more, especially online. There is a poor knowledge of AML and even worse knowledge on problem gambling when it comes to online operators. Staff needs to be given proper training so they can protect the businesses and their legitimate customers. I think more regulation will keep coming and will keep getting harder until operators take it upon themselves to start protecting customers.

What do you think what is gaming considered by the people of the UK today; are they satisfied with the new changes?

Alex: Public trust in gambling has drastically decreased; this is because of all the negative media on problem gambling and money laundering. I think the public are happy that the industry is under such scrutiny because financial crime and problem gambling effects so many people. Operators have the power to regain trust from the public and I do think all the changes the commission and the government are trying to make will help to regain public trust once again.

What would you change in the present state of the British gambling market?

Alex: I would make it a requirement for operators and all staff to undertake adequate and relevant training on both AML and problem gambling. Many operators put staff through poor internal courses or e-learning programs which is not good enough. AML Gaming Solutions (AMLGS) are made up of AML experts who have worked for law enforcement, government and regulators. They deliver face to face training to all staff from the ground all the way up to the CEO which is highly important. Every operator should be undertaking training from experts such as AMLGS. It is vital for staff to hear from professionals and to understand what a vital role their play in preventing financial crime and protecting customers

What is your personal opinion about gambling industry in general in Europe?

Alex: I think that the industry is moving in the right direction, the constant updates in law and regulation are a good thing and operators need to embrace the changes. I do believe that from compliance perspective more needs to be done by operators, but we are getting there slowly. The industry is going to continue to grow; it is this growth that has brought the attention of various governments and law enforcements. Five years ago the industry was not on anyone’s radar but now every government in the world has taken an interest. This scrutiny has brought a well-deserved pressure to operators who have for many years failed to prevent financial crime; I think the message is clear: step up and do more or be on the receiving end of some very harsh penalties.

To hear more about the subject and meet Alex in person, make sure you register and attend Prague Gaming Summit 2018, held on the 29th of March at Andel’s by Vienna House Prague.

Interviewee profile:

Alex specialises in preventing money laundering in its varying forms and has a very unique insight that is hard to find.

Alex Henderson is the current Head of AML at The Ritz Hotel Casino, one of the worlds most prestigious casinos. Alex has worked for the National Crime Agency (NCA) as part of the AML expert witness team and has been involved in multiple high end money laundering investigations. As well as having worked for several years as part of the NCA’s AML expert witness team, Alex spent much of his NCA career working as part of the covert operations unit (Undercover operations) portraying many different roles, including the role of a high end money launderer. This unique insight into the mind of a criminal allows financial institutions to see the vulnerabilities and risks from a new angle. Alex advises a large number of organisations with regards to their AML compliance programmes and has lectured extensively in the UK and across Europe.

EXPERIENCE
• Successfully delivered AML training workshops to a large banking group with over 4000 employees
• Advises money service bureaus, banks and regulated businesses on their AML risks
• Operated in a covert capacity in various operations across the UK, portraying the role of a money launderer amongst many others
• Involved in many high profile investigations involving trade based money laundering and sector focused laundering
• Advised leading organisations on the financial crime risks and vulnerabilities impacting their business
• Delivered training to multiple financial institutions and developed staff knowledge of AML across over 100 organisations to date
• Leading the AML team at one of London’s top casinos, handling high risk members and overseeing the due diligence of the business customer database
• Advised a major bank in regards to their AML fine and enforcement action on best practice moving forward
• Involved in various counter terrorism and AML Law Enforcement operations across the UK

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Conferences in Europe

European Gaming Q1 Meetup records tremendous success, announcing Q2 Meetup date and the launch of the European Gaming Mini Meetups

George Miller

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The Hipther team proves that the Meetup concept works exceptionally and announces the launch of the Mini Meetups

 

The European Gaming Q1 Meetup took place on 11 February and has brought together +1500 participants for a full day of learning.

35 industry leaders from the European continent have joined 7-panel discussions and launched into forward-thinking conversations that were highly attended by industry shareholders.

We would like to thank the support of our sponsors: Altenar, Play’n GO, Nordic Gambling, Singular, and All-in Global.

Here are some testimonials left by some of the participants:

Enjoyed first quarterly meetup of 2021, great cut through different markets and operations in the constantly changing gaming environment. Well done!” ~ Marke Räsänen, Head of Affiliates at VIPs Casino Gaming

Long day, well organized and timed, more than helpful and interesting.” ~ Mattia Nicelli, Independent Consultant

“In a short time, a great scope about regulation, how to deal with emergents markets, a link between online and offline (that’s now a key issue as some sports need the offline for the social link), and a rising topic: Responsible gaming” ~ CATHERINE CHAUVIN, Area manager at PMU

“The European Gaming QMeetups keep you up to date on the legislation updates of the past months and upcoming months. A must-attend for gaming industry decision-makers.” ~ Christiaan Bollen, SEO Consultant and Founder at Boljoro

You can view the full recording of the meetup here:

The program has satisfied all content needs for companies interested in updates from the EU/EEA/CIS and Balkan regions.

Some of the panel discussions have created many new ideas that have to be developed, or have to be discussed further. Thus, are creating a series of Mini Meetups that will feature only one panel discussion per edition and allow the participants to engage even deeper into the conversation.

After receiving positive feedback and engaging into organizational discussions, Zoltán Tűndik, Co-Founder and Head of Business at Hipther Agency commented: “We are thrilled to see that our regional meetups are helping the industry engage in forward thinking conversations and are not as tiring as a large conference would be. With such occasions, we can keep the momentum going by also maintaining the quality of the content. During the two Q1 Meetups (Americas + Europe), we had a total of 3000 participants and over 17k viewers on YouTube. We are complementing the Meetup offering by the launch of the Mini Meetup series which will take place monthly and have only one panel discussion that allows participants to engage in the discussion themselves.

Here are some important dates to keep in mind:

  • February 25, 2021 – 10:00 – 12:00 CET – Do-s and don’ts for emerging markets (European Gaming Mini Meetup) – Focus on Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Georgia
  • March 25, 2021 – 10:00 – 12:00 CET – Regulator’s decisions and politics (European Gaming Mini Meetup)
  • April 8, 2021 – 10:00 – 12:00 CET – Follow up: Regulation Outlook on 2021 in Europe (European Gaming Mini Meetup)
  • June 10, 2021 – 9:30 – 15:30 CETEuropean Gaming Q2 Meetup

Please note that all meetups are totally FREE to attend and you only need to register once to receive the updates in regards to the upcoming opportunities.

See more details here | Register for free

For further sponsorship/speaking and marketing inquiries, make sure to reach out to Andrada Marginean (B2B Sales Executive at Hipther Agency).

For media-related inquiries, please contact Alexandru Marginean (Marketing Specialist at Hipther Agency).

To receive constant updates, subscribe here: http://eepurl.com/hfyZxf

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Conferences in Europe

Announcing the final agenda for European Gaming Q1 Meetup (11 February), your top virtual event on the European continent

Zoltan Tundik

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European Gaming announces the final agenda for their first virtual quarterly meetup in 2021.

 

The European Gaming Q1 Meetup is taking place on 11 February and we are ready to reveal the final agenda for the event. See more details here | Register for free

The meetup already attracted +1.5k registrations and has +50 confirmed speakers, which has transformed the meetup into a full day conference dedicated to the European region.

The team at Hipther Agency along with the Way Seers at European Gaming has designed a program that will satisfy all content needs for companies interested in updates from the EU/EEA/CIS and Balkan regions.

Here is how the final agenda looks like:

All times are in CET

9:30 AM – 10:15 AM – Regulation Outlook on 2021 in Europe

  • ANDRIUS GABNYS – Attorney At Law – Gabnys Law Firm
  • JOERG HOFMANN – Partner at MELCHERS LAW
  • SIMON PLANZER – Partner at PLANZER LAW
  • RAFFAELA ZILLNER, LL.M – Secretary General at Austrian Association for Betting and Gambling (OVWG)
  • ZLATAN OMERSPAHIĆ – Head of Legal and Compliance, Data Protection Officer at NSoft Company
  • JESSICA MAIER – Chief Risk Officer, Head of Legal and Compliance at Push Gaming (panel moderator)

10:15 AM – 11:00 AM – Do-s and don’ts for emerging markets

  • ARAKSI SARGSYAN – Head Of Business Development at DS Virtual Gaming
  • CHARMAINE HOGAN – Head of Regulatory Affairs at Playtech
  • ILYA MACHAVARIANI – Senior Partner, CEO at Agency
  • MARIO GALEA – Senior Consultant at Random Consulting
  • VLADIMIR MALAKCHI – CBDO at Evoplay Entertainment
  • ANDRIUS GABNYS – Attorney At Law – Gabnys Law Firm (panel moderator)

11:00 AM – 11:45 AM – Regulator’s decisions and politics

  • MINNA RIPATTI – Founding partner and legal advisor at Legal Gaming in Finland
  • LUDOVICO CALVI – President at Global Lottery Monitoring System (GLMS) – Sport Betting Consultant at Oregon State Lottery
  • ODETTE NESTOR – Former Romanian Regulator, President at Asociatia Organizatorilor de Jocuri de Noroc la Distanta (AOJND)
  • GUSTAF HOFFSTEDT – Secretary-General at the Swedish Trade Association for Online Gambling
  • MORTEN RONDE – CEO at Danish Online Gambling Association and Managing Partner at Nordic Gambling (panel moderator)

11:45 AM – 1:00 PM – The synergy between land-based and online operations (Sponsored by Play’n GO)

Includes 30 minutes interaction with the participants

  • DIMITRIS PANAGEAS – Group General Counsel of KAIZEN GAMING
  • NICK TOFILUK – Chief Executive Officer at the National Gaming and Casino Supervision Commission Cyprus
  • KEITH CARUANA – Technical Compliance Lead at Play’n GO
  • ROBERT DOWLING – Chief Commercial Officer at Singular
  • DOMENICO MAZZOLA – Commercial Director at Altenar
  • TIAGO APRIGIO – CEO at All-in Global (panel moderator)

1:00 PM – 2:00 PM – Will eSports and Virtual Sports reign on the industry in 2021

Includes 15 minutes interaction with the participants

  • VERONIQUE DOS REIS – Executive General Counsel at Pinnacle
  • LAZAR MIUČIN – VP of Strategic Partnerships at NSoft
  • GEORGE SHAMUGIA – CEO and co-founder of Singular
  • MAREK SUCHAR – Head of Partnerships at gg
  • ANASTASIOS (TASSOS) PANAGIOTAROS – Sales Director at Golden Race – Virtual Sports & Betting Solutions
  • LYUBOMIRA PETROVA – Chief Marketing Officer at UltraPlay (panel moderator)

2:00 PM – 2:45 PM – Game design in 2021, introducing the responsible game design (Sponsored by Play’n GO)

  • RICHARD BAYLISS – Senior Regulatory Affairs and Compliance Manager at Playtech
  • JAMES MARSHALL – CEO at Push Gaming
  • MATTHIAS CIAPPARA – Gamification Advocate & Consultant at XperiencePlay
  • ALEX MARGINEAN – Marketing Specialist at Hipther Agency (panel moderator)

2:45 PM – 3:30 PM – Responsible advertising/focus on affiliates

  • YAROSLAV STANEV – Head of Marketing at Oddspedia
  • ASSAF STIEGLITZ – President at Odds1x2 Holdings
  • ANTON SIKSTRÖM – Head Of Compliance at Catena Media
  • VASCO ALBUQUERQUE – SEO Manager at All-in Global (panel moderator)

You can also view the full schedule and times of the panels on the following link: https://europeangaming.eu/meetups/schedule-q1-meetup/

For further sponsorship/speaking and marketing inquiries, make sure to reach out to Andrada Marginean (B2B Sales Executive at Hipther Agency).

For media-related inquiries, please contact Alexandru Marginean (Marketing Specialist at Hipther Agency).

To receive constant updates, subscribe here: http://eepurl.com/hfyZxf

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Conferences in Europe

Play’n GO to sponsor several panels at the European Gaming and Gaming Americas Quarterly Meetups in 2021

Zoltan Tundik

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Leading supplier for slot gaming in the casino industry all virtual quarterly meetups by Hipther Agency through 2021

We are excited to announce the support of Play’n GO as panel sponsor for multiple discussions all through the 8 quarterly meetups our team is hosting in 2021.

Based on several surveys and feedback, the team at Hipther Agency has made the necessary steps to support the gaming industry’s informational needs all through the year.

Starting from 2021 you can tune in on quality discussions and meet up with the top names from the EU/EEA/CIS and Balkans via the European Gaming Quarterly Meetups, or with the North and Latin American gaming industry via the Gaming Americas Quarterly Meetups.

The aim of the quarterly virtual meetups is to increase the access to quality information, but also provide an excellent opportunity to participate in engaging discussions between the industry stakeholders.

It did not take long until the industry reacted and we are also eager to reveal that both Q1 Meetups already have +1000 registrations and each confirmed a lineup of +40 industry experts.

The Q1 Meetups will take place on the following dates:

Each meetup features several panel discussions per region and topics that are joined by key industry experts, CEOs, C-Level Executives, Business Development Managers, and sometimes government officials/regulators.

As mentioned above, Play’n GO is supporting the Quarterly Meetups as Panel Sponsor in multiple panels, and here are few things you should know about them:

Play’n GO are a leading supplier for slot gaming in the casino industry. One of the first suppliers to recognise and utilise the potential of mobile slot gaming, their innovation has revolutionised the industry and led Play’n GO to the forefront of the casino supplier market. Since its inception Play’n GO have curated a portfolio of award-winning games developed and tailored for compatibility with all devices and operating systems. In addition to this, they also provide back-end services and solutions to ensure operators are equipped to provide the ultimate gaming experience; this includes their casino platform and their server-based gaming solution, OMNY.

For further sponsorship/speaking and marketing inquiries, make sure to reach out to Andrada Marginean (B2B Sales Executive at Hipther Agency).

For media-related inquiries, please contact Alexandru Marginean (Marketing Specialist at Hipther Agency).

To receive constant updates, subscribe here: http://eepurl.com/hfyZxf

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