Not looking out for customers enough

GGPoker has run afoul of the United Kingdom’s gambling regulator. On Wednesday, the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) announced that NSUS Limited, which trades as GGPoker, has been fined a hefty £672,829 ($746,340) for both social responsibility and anti-money laundering failures.

When the UKGC hands out large fines, it is usually for these two categories. Social responsibility has to do with protecting customers from gambling harm. In this case, the Commission said that NSUS/GGPoker failed on two fronts: it didn’t properly identify customers who could be at risk of gambling harm and it did not interact with customers who players who could be at risk.

In a nutshell, GGPoker on some scale that warranted such a large fine, just let people deposit large sums of money and lose at a pace that should have raised red flags, but the company did not bother checking on those players.

GGPoker also sent e-mails to 125 customers who had put themselves on a self-exclusion list. People who self-exclude not only are suppose to be blocked from playing, but are not supposed to be sent e-mails which could tempt them to gamble.

Not keeping a good eye on the money trail

The anti-money laundering violations are fairly straightforward. Online gambling sites must have policies and procedures in place to prevent money laundering and terrorist financing, things like Know Your Customer protocols and source of funds checks (these help with social responsibility, too). GGPoker failed to “ensure they have appropriate policies, procedures and controls” to do so.

Online poker rooms and casinos are attractive spots to launder money, as it can be quick and easy. Someone deposits ill-gotten funds, plays for a while (could be hours, days, weeks, depending on how much “cover play” they want), then cashes out. They might lose some money, but for them, that’s just the cost of washing their money. They withdraw their funds and voila, their income is now from the gambling site, not from whatever criminal enterprise they engaged in.

It’s more complicated than that, for sure – people might mix criminal money with legit before depositing, create different financial accounts and identities, etc. – but you get the idea. Dirty money in, clean money out, just like in the show Ozark.

And while three-quarters of a million dollars is nothing to sneeze at, it pales in comparison to what the UKGC inflicted upon Entain in August. For the same categories of violations, both online and in its retail betting shops, the parent company of Ladbrokes, partypoker, bwin, and more was fined £17 million ($18.8 million). Most of that – £14 million – was for failures in Entain’s online operations.

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