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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

SoftSwiss, Trustly, BtoBet, Nordic Gambling and MaxWeb among the sponsors at European Gaming Congress VE 2020 (#EGC2020VE)

Zoltan Tundik

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Top industry suppliers lined up to support European Gaming Congress VE (Virtual Edition).

 

#EGC2020ve – The virtual edition of European Gaming Congress 2020 is taking place between 6-7 October and gathers top names of the gaming industry who will present their insights to create Europe’s largest gaming compliance gathering.

The conference covers +28 jurisdictions and you have the opportunity to dive into quality content while also build your network of contacts.

Among the top jurisdictions coverage, you will hear vital updates about Italy, Malta, Greece, Netherlands, United Kingdom, France, Spain, Portugal, Ukraine, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Hungary, Slovenia, Romania, Bulgaria, Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Denmark, Sweden, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, and Montenegro.

Among the top names confirmed are representative of Malta Gaming Authority (MGA), French Gambling Authority (ANJ), and several industry stakeholders such as Kaizen Gaming (Betano-Stoiximan), Altenar, NSoft, Parimatch, Enlabs, Evoplay Entertainment, STATSCORE, UltraPlay, Endorphina, Oddspedia, Habanero Systems, Singular and more.

THE EASY AND FREE REGISTRATION PROCESS IS SPONSORED BY ALTENAR AND YOU CAN REGISTER FOR FREE HERE!

You can find more details about the speakers’ and moderator on the official website of the conference: www.europeangamingcongress.com

As mentioned above, top industry suppliers have the lineup to support the conference and among them, you can find SoftSwiss, Trustly, BtoBet, Nordic Gambling, and MaxWeb.

Here is a brief introduction of these innovative companies:

About SoftSwiss:

SoftSwiss is a leading tech company focused on the iGaming market. It supplies ultra-powerful, widely acclaimed, certified software solutions for managing online casino and betting operations worldwide. It also provides cost-effective White Label solutions and various operational services.

Among the products, SoftSwiss offers a powerful online Online Сasino PlatformGame Aggregator with thousands of casino games, an Affiliate System, and Sports Betting Platform. The solutions are well-known for their flexibility coupled with the benefits of excellent post-sales support and transparent pricing.

The company holds a number of gaming licenses, providing “one-stop” White Label solutions while taking care of all technical, legal, and financial processes on behalf of its customers. Moreover, SoftSwiss offers additional B2C services in the form of 24/7 customer support, player retention and reactivation, and extended Anti-Fraud support to operators.

About Trustly:

Founded in 2008, Trustly Group AB is a Swedish FinTech company that makes online banking e-payments fast, simple and secure. The company offers cross-border payments to and from consumer bank accounts at over 3,000 banks in 29 European markets and connects businesses and consumers within e-commerce, travel, gaming, and financial services. In 2017,2018 and 2019, the Financial Times ranked Trustly as one of the fastest-growing companies in Europe on the FT1000 list and the London Stock Exchange recognized Trustly as one of Europe’s most inspiring, fast-growing companies.

About BtoBet:

 

BtoBet is a multinational company and is part of a group with 20 years of experience in software development in IT, telecommunication, e-commerce, and banking, strongly committed to technology and widely investing in technology research and development. The experience gained at the forefront in these advanced environments, compared with the more recent gambling industry, allows BtoBet to be visionary with a deep understanding of the requirements of the market, catching changing trends and anticipating bookmakers’ and operators’ needs. BtoBet is a true partner in technology, offering a standalone platform and services for the iGaming and Sports Betting industry. It counts on a very talented, continuously trained development team and day to day management support to clients. BtoBet allows licensees to be unique in the market, by giving them the opportunity to completely personalize their offers for Sports betting and iGaming business, online mobile, and retail.

About Nordic Gambling:

Nordic Gambling is the only legal firm in the Nordic countries which specializes in gambling-related law such as licensing, compliance advice, and public affairs.

They have gained extensive experience in the industry from working with operators, suppliers, service providers, and government regulators. Their team has been closely involved in the development of the law and regulation in a number of European jurisdictions, including Denmark and Sweden.

The partners of Nordic Gambling are recognized among the leading legal experts in the gambling industry and are qualified to assist you with whichever legal issue you may encounter.

The team at Nordic Gambling is also very pleased to announce that they have contributed a section on Sweden, first published in the latest version of the International Comparative Legal Guide to Gambling 2020. You can read that chapter here.

About MaxWeb:

If you’re looking for an affiliate network that helps you make more predictable revenue more often, you might want to consider MaxWeb.

MaxWeb is currently the #1 fastest-growing affiliate network, and they specialize in maximizing results for both affiliates and advertisers. No exaggeration. They focus on carrying only the best offers and provide maximum commissions—you’ll get payouts up to 3 times a week.

 

AS MENTIONED ABOVE THE EASY AND FREE REGISTRATION PROCESS IS SPONSORED BY ALTENAR AND YOU CAN REGISTER HERE NOW!

You can find more details about the Agenda here!

For further inquiries about the speaking/sponsoring options, make sure to send an e-mail to Andrada Marginean (B2B Sales Executive at Hipther Agency) or subscribe to the weekly newsletter on the following link.

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

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Conferences in Europe

European Gaming Congress 2020 Speaker Profile: Lyubomira Petrova, Chief Marketing Officer at UltraPlay

Alex Marginean

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#EGC2020ve – The Virtual (Digital) Edition of European Gaming Congress will take place between 6-7 October and is part of Hipther Festival.

We are happy to provide you with the opportunity of attending the conference for free thanks to our Registration Sponsor, Altenar.

You can register here and do not miss out on Europe’s Largest Gaming Compliance Gathering!

The event gathers 80 experts who share their knowledge around compliance-related matters and updates to the +500 participants! Make sure you are one of them!

Today, we are introducing you to one of these experts whom you can hear present or moderate at the 3rd edition of the European Gaming Congress, which is now a virtual event due to the 2020 year’s challenges.

Lyubomira Petrova is the Chief Marketing Officer at UltraPlay and has been with the company for a few years now, learning and experiencing what eSports is all about.

Leading UltraPlay’s marketing team, Lyubomira uses her extensive knowledge and experience in communication to position and expand the company’s brand and key messages to diverse audiences, making her the ideal candidate to take on the speaking role in the “Gambling Industry in 2020” panel discussion and highlighting the evolution of eSports in Europe and around the world.

Lyubomira will speak during the LATEST INDUSTRY INNOVATION AND HOW THE INDUSTRY HAS ADAPTED TO CURRENT TIMES” panel discussion at #EGC2020. Make sure to register here!

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).

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Conferences in Europe

European Gaming Congress 2020 Speaker Profile: Vladimir Malakchi, CBDO at Evoplay Entertainment

Alex Marginean

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Reading Time: < 1 minute

 

#EGC2020ve – The Virtual (Digital) Edition of European Gaming Congress will take place between 6-7 October and is part of Hipther Festival.

We are happy to provide you with the opportunity of attending the conference for free thanks to our Registration Sponsor, Altenar.

You can register here and do not miss out on Europe’s Largest Gaming Compliance Gathering!

The event gathers 80 experts who share their knowledge around compliance-related matters and updates to the +500 participants! Make sure you are one of them!

Today, we are introducing you to one of these experts whom you can hear present or moderate at the 3rd edition of the European Gaming Congress, which is now a virtual event due to the 2020 year’s challenges.

Heading up Evoplay Entertainment’s rapidly expanding global presence, Vladimir Malakchi has been key to the studio’s outstanding success in 2020 as it continues to go from strength-to-strength as one of the industry’s most revolutionary suppliers.

A start-up entrepreneur at heart, Malakchi has brought a wealth of experience to Evoplay Entertainment since joining the company earlier this year, having successfully scaled multiple early-stage companies across the tech space, including one of the world’s top five blockchain developers.

Ready to offer his insights on all things global and Ukraine, he holds an extensive track record across the country’s venture capital and investment environment, having guided multiple firm through the product development and strategic development process – raising in excess of $60 million.

Pieters will speak during the GAMING REPORT: UKRAINE SPECIAL” panel discussion at #EGC2020. Make sure to register here!

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).

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