The United Kingdom Gaming Commission (UKGC) put out a statement last week announcing that it has fined four online casino operators a total of £4.5 million after investigations revealed that the companies failed to “put in place effective safeguards to prevent money laundering and keep consumers safe from gambling harm.”
InTouch Games Limited was nailed with about half of that total fine, £2.2 million for falling short on multiple anti-money laundering safeguards. Basically, InTouch did very little to prevent money laundering, regardless of whether or not any crimes actually occurred.
Some examples given by the UKGC of Intouch’s problems:
• High risk customers were not identified; the only customer due diligence that was done was to check age
• “Know your customer” policies were either not in place or poorly designed – source of wealth was not verified beyond what seems like basic Googling
• Triggers for further review were set way too high; nobody even hit those thresholds
• InTouch didn’t have a customer interaction policy
The investigation into InTouch began thirteen months ago. The company has accepted the UKGC’s findings and has either already fixed the holes in its policies or is currently correcting them.
Betit Operations Limited was fined £1.4 million. It did have anti-money laundering systems in place, but they were considered insufficient by the UKGC. Its customer verification was very basic, including only a “soft” credit check and name and address verification. The same background was done on every customer, so those that warranted further study – those that may have been higher risk – were never looked at further. That seems to be the theme to most of Betit’s report. Not a lack of procedures, just poor ones.
Betit also failed in its VIP department. Some examples:
Customer A deposited £67,078 over a 23-day period. It was established that Betit’s internal flags had not been triggered in-line with its ‘Responsible Gaming Guide’. The customer made numerous bonus requests to the VIP Account Manager over a 16-day period, with each request accompanied by details of the loss of money.
Customer B deposited £110,500 over a 24-hour period and Betit failed to conduct appropriate customer interaction. Instead the operator gave the customer VIP status, offered him cash bonuses and raised his deposit limits despite the bank having declined transactions from two of his cards. Betit has voluntarily refunded this customer.
MT SecureTrade Limited was fined £700,000 for similar reasons to Betit – the customer financial and background checks to prevent money laundering were just not good enough. Here’s one of several examples given in the report:
Customer A deposited £134,350 over the course of the business relationship with MTST (March 2017 – August 2017) and withdrew £60,683. It was established that despite the fact that MTST’s responsible gambling flags had been triggered i.e. cancelled withdrawals, request to increase daily deposit limit, and deposits made with five different credit cards MTST had failed to identify the customer as high risk and obtain source of funds (SOF). MTST has voluntarily agreed to refund this money back to the individual involved.
And finally, Bestbet Limited was fined £230,972 for failing to install proper anti-money laundering and social responsibility procedures. When it came to social responsibility measures, the UKGC found:
• minimal customer interaction had been undertaken on its customers since becoming licensed by the Commission.
• it had not undertaken customer interaction in a timely manner.
• it had failed to take into consideration previously issued Commission guidance and the LCCP.
• at the time of the compliance assessment, it did communicate with its players, but this was often only done at withdrawal stage.