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Conferences in Europe

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 reka.szalo@europeangaming.eu 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

Reka is an Experienced English second language teacher with a demonstrated history of working in the higher education industry. Skilled in Microsoft Excel, Teaching English as a Foreign Language, Translation, Foreign Languages, and Lecturing. Strong education professional with a Bachelor’s Degree majored in English Language and Literature/Letters. Reka is in charge of conducting the exclusive interviews on European Gaming and our printed magazine

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Baltics

European Gaming announces Andrius Gabnys (Gabnys Law Firm) as ambassador for MARE BALTICUM

George Miller

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We are proud to announce that Andrius Gabnys (Gabnys Law Firm) will join us as event Ambassador at the second edition of MARE BALTICUM Gaming Summit, which will be held in Vilnius, Lithuania on the 9th of May, 2019 at Radisson Blu Royal Astorija Hotel.

Finally, Vilnius has been given an opportunity to host the first full-fledged international gambling forum. It deserves one and it will be an honour to contribute in making it the top quality gathering for the gaming industry professionals.

It is the second edition of the Mare Balticum Gaming Summit, which European Gaming Media and Events brought into the map of annual European gaming conferences. Last year’s event in Riga and the subsequent developments in the region proved that the Baltics and Nordics need the dedicated forum. Let’s meet in Vilnius this Spring 2019! We have a lot to discuss!stated Andrius Gabnys (Attorney at Gabnys Law Firm).

Zoltán Tűndik, Founder, Co-Owner and Head of Business at European Gaming Media and Events added: “We are happy to welcome Andrius as an ambassador for MARE BALTICUM and look forward to working with him once again as we did with the inaugural event. Andrius is a well-known and respected attorney in the region and we are lucky that we can work with him. Andrius has extensive experience dealing with the gambling authorities in Europe, CIS countries, Africa and South America which makes him a leading figure of the industry in the Baltic and Scandinavian region for industry development.

MARE BALTICUM 2 will once again bring together the leading companies in the Baltic and Scandinavian region for a full day of quality learning and networking with local regulators and industry experts.

You can Register here!

Browse the official event website here: www.marebalticumgaming.com

You can view the photo gallery from the inaugural event on the follow this link.

About Andrius Gabnys

Andrius Gabnys is an attorney-at-law and a managing partner at Gabnys Law Firm, a legal boutique based in Vilnius, Lithuania and Tallinn, Estonia. The Firm specializes in entertainment (gambling, media, arts) and technology (IT, cybersecurity) legal aspects. Andrius Gabnys has been working in the online gambling sector for over 10 years, and focuses on the multijurisdictional licensing, IP and related matters. He has an extensive experience dealing with the gambling authorities in Europe, CIS countries, Africa and South America.

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Baltics

Save the date for MARE BALTICUM 2 – The Baltic and Scandinavian Gaming Summit and Awards 2019

Zoltan Tundik

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We are honored to announce that the registrations are open for the second edition of MARE BALTICUM – The Baltic and Scandinavian Gaming Summit which will be held in Vilnius, Lithuania on the 9th of May, 2019 at Radisson Blu Royal Astorija Hotel.

The new location of the event is based on the survey results which was sent out after the inaugural event in 2018, which was held in Riga.

MARE BALTICUM 2 will once again bring together the leading companies in the Baltic and Scandinavian region for a full day of quality learning and networking with local regulators and industry experts.

Already confirmed officials are Lolita Sumskaite (Ministry of Finance, Lithuania), Signe Birne (Lotteries and Gambling Supervisory Inspection of the Republic of Latvia), Taivo Põrk (Ministry of Finance, Estonia) and Brigitte Sand (Director, Danish Gambling Authority). More officials will be announced by the end of 2018.

You can Register here.

In addition to the regulatory reports and trending topics about Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Denmark and Sweden, the summit will bring the latest information about the Belarusian market.

Besides the market focusing panel discussion, we are adding two important topics to the agenda, Safe Gambling and Industry Innovations.

As in 2018, MARE BALTICUM will feature a special IMGL MASTERCLASS™.

New in 2019: Awards Ceremony for the Baltic and Scandinavian Industry

We are delighted to announce that we are adding an industry awards ceremony which will reward the hard work of companies in the region.

Titled as “The Baltic and Scandinavian Gaming Awards” (BSG Awards), the awards will be given to the top companies in their respective fields in an independent, fair and representative awards ceremony.

More details about the nominations phase, voting and categories will be revealed soon! For early enquiries, please contact zoltan.tundik@europeangaming.eu or betty.tundik@europeangaming.eu

You can view the photo gallery from the  inaugural event on the follow this link.

Testimonials from the attendees of the inaugural summit in Riga:

Satenik Danielyan (Head of Spring BME operations at BetConstruct): “Everything was just fine! The ambiance was very nice, the moderators were very highly qualified and engaging people, very suportive!”

Marjan Branko (Account Director at SBTech): “Another nice and productive event. Keep up the good job, guys!”

Taivo Põrk (Ministry of Finance, Estonia): “Looking forward to the next one! I will be back next year as well!”

Sissel Weitzhandler (Group Compliance Manager at Play’n Go): “It was an honor to take part at Mare Balticum Gaming Summit in Riga last week. The agenda and topics were extremely relevant, as demonstrated by the high level of interest and the entire event was very well organised. It was an absolute pleasure to take part in the forum so well attended by regulators, legal experts, industry representatives and operators where ideas and lessons can be shared and learned. I would like to thank the organisers, the individual panels including my distinguished fellow panelists. I hope to be back again as I believe this is an event one should not miss.”

Andrius Gabnys (Managing partner, Attorney-at-Law at Gabnys Law Firm): “I strongly believe that the region – Baltic States and beyond – has been an unfortunate gap in the industry media and events coverage for quite a long time. Zoltan and Betty were bold enough to make the first true dedicated gambling forum in the region and from my experience at Mare Balticum Gaming Summit it turned out to be a very good idea. Smooth organization, accurately selected panels, convenient and cozy venue. A very strong foundation for another successful series of events for European Gaming Media and Events.”

Pieter Remmers (Assissa): “A very good industry focused event with lots of attention to the individual participant.”

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Conferences in Europe

The inaugural European Gaming Congress (EGC) records a huge success at it debut, new destination announced for 2019

George Miller

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The inaugural European Gaming Congress took place last month on the 16th of October in Ljubljana and has recorded a significant success for our team.

European Gaming Congress (EGC) is the newest conference in our portfolio and targets a broader audience in the Europe with panel discussion covering all the regions.

We are really happy with the turnout of the event and the feedback we received from the attending operators, service providers and experts of the industry. We designed EGC to complement our already established events in the Baltic, Scandinavian and CEE regions. The conference is here to stay and we look forward to exploring its new destination in 2019 which was voted via a survey by the industry.“ commented Zoltán Tűndik, Founder, Co-Owner and Head of Business at European Gaming Media and Events.

As mentioned earlier, the conference took place at Grand Union Hotel Ljubljana on the 16th of October and based on the results of the post event survey, the 2019 edition will be held in Milan, Italy.

You can Pre-Register here.

To view the photo gallery from the event, follow this link.

To gain access to the recordings of the panel discussions, please contact zoltan.tundik@europeangaming.eu or betty.tundik@europeangaming.eu

Testimonials from the attendees:

The inaugural European Gaming Congress in Ljubljana is a boutique event that brings together experts  from all over Europe to exchange experiences from different countries as well as to develop thoughts and knowledge in various areas of gaming law. Great experience with wonderful people!” – Dr. Alexandra Körner (Senior Legal Associate at MME Legal AG)

The inaugural European Gaming Congress in Ljubljana was an extremely informative and well organized get-together of gaming and gambling professionals. The European Gaming Media team have managed to pull together a great mix of professionals in a very accommodating and enjoyable location. OSM Solutions will definitely return for the 2019 congress.” – Martin Stöfler (Co-Founder at OSM Solutions)

Another exciting event in the igaming industry. European Gaming Congress, taking place in a beautiful city of Ljubljana, proved to be another successful occasion organized by Zoltan and his colleagues. For me personally, the event provided valuable information about the current status quo in regulated markets and shared insights into the compliance issues many of my industry colleagues have been facing. The programme was superb, with an impeccable selection of high profile speakers and well-thought-out panel discussions. Can’t wait for the 2019 edition!” – Lucia Chmeľová (Compliance Manager at Tom Horn Gaming)

Excelent insight into the Balkan market particularly on the Slovenian market” – Michael Karamanlis (Legal Counsel at Stoiximan.gr and Betano)

EGC Ljubljana was a great opportunity to get relevant information from various markets and to meet numerous professionals across the Europe.” – Zoran Puhac (Secretary-General at EOGL)

Good cozy event – not too big and just right to be able to meet and speak with everybody. I saw many new faces and still didn’t manage to get acquainted with everyone.” – Kate Romanenko (Head Of Sales at Evoplay Entertainment)

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