Over the past few years, the UK’s online gambling industry has seen an exciting growth in business; contributing a near £4.7 billion to the £14 billion the country’s overall gambling industry’s worth was set at in 2017.
Many of the UK’s related regulatory bodies for gambling, such as the UK’s Gambling Commission, believe that this is to the detriment of the gambling operator’s users, and so have called for extensive investigations and the implementation of various different regulations in order to prioritise the safety of society’s most vulnerable during the exponential growth and success of the UK gambling industry.
One of the latest crackdowns the UKGC has currently faced the industry with to safeguard the welfare of gamblers throughout the UK, and to ensure operators are in keeping with the county’s laws surrounding gambling, would be through the commission’s fining of Unibet UK (operating under Platinum Gaming). Casino Market investigates this high-profile case.
A settlement of £1.6 million has been made after the UKGC conducted an investigation into the operators of Unibet UK (Platinum Gaming). The Gambling Commission was informed that one of the online operator’s customers had been using stolen money to gamble with. This customer had been using several different online casino platforms with which to spend this £2 million worth of stolen money, with £629,420 of this amount spent through the Platinum Gaming operator.
The UKGC claimed that the deposits made by this particular user were “so high and losses so significant” that the company should have acknowledged their suspicious behaviour, and acted accordingly by banning or restricting them from the site. Instead of taking this necessary course of action, the online gambling operators allowed this user to continue spending the stolen money, until information of this was passed onto the UKGC to stop it.
Part of the Gambling Commission’s public statement explaining these recent failings in Platinum Gaming detail that the company “failed to apply EDD (enhanced due diligence) and ongoing monitoring properly on a risk-sensitive basis contrary to Regulation 12 of the 2017 Regulations. This regulation requires operators to apply additional measures to establish and verify the customer’s identity, and to scrutinise the transactions undertaken by the customer (including their SOF) in situations which, by their nature, present a higher risk of money laundering.”
Executive Director of the UK Gambling Commission Richard Watson has commented on this recent case with the following: “There were weaknesses in Platinum Gaming’s systems and as a consequence, more than half a million pounds of stolen money flowed through the business. This is not acceptable and I would urge all operators to carefully read this case and learn lessons so they don’t make the same mistakes.”
Watson followed up on this point, further stating that “This is yet another example of us [UKGC] taking firm action against online operators who fail to protect consumers or implement effective safeguards against money laundering. We must see the industry stepping up and providing consumers in Great Britain with the safest and fairest gambling market in the world. Where we continue to see failings, we will continue to take action.”
Whilst this considerably large fine has been applied to Platinum Gaming, the UKGC has made a statement explaining that as this was an isolated occurrence, the gambling operator’s licence will not be put under review. The commission have reflected that the company have “moved forward since the time of this incident, with clear improvements in areas where these failings were found to have occurred.”
Part of this £1.6 million settlement between the company and the regulators has meant the return of this stolen (and gambled) money back to its rightful owners (the victims of the user in question). In addition to this, Platinum Gaming will also be required to pay a penalty of £990,200, which will be used to fund the National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms.