Tom Watson, the Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, has hit back a casino operators and has requested that all online casinos with licenses in Great Britain should re-apply. This announcement comes following the fine of four online casino operators last week who must pay a total of £4.5m ($5.8m) for breaching their licenses.
In a letter written by Watson to Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright, he explains that “over one third of operators are failing their customers” and that the “biggest threat comes from operators overseas.”
Which online casinos were fined?
InTouch Games Limited was fined £2.2 million (USD 2.8 M); Betit Operations Limited, £1.4 million (USD 1.8 M); MT Secure Trade, £700,000 (USD 900,000) in lieu of financial penalties; and BestBet was fined a financial penalty of £230,972 (USD 297,000).
In one case, when a customer deposited more than £100,000 during a 24-hour period, the operator gave him VIP status instead of carrying out an affordability check, and the company offered him cash bonuses and raised his deposit limits despite his bank declining the transactions from two of his credit cards.
Research carried out by Watson showed that online casinos pay £120m to sponsor Premier League football clubs overall, while only contributing £50 per team to Britain’s biggest gambling charity, well below the donation targets set by GambleAware at around 0.1% of their annual revenue and an expected annual target of £14m. In 2018, around £9.6m was donated with several companies giving just £1 to £5 to ensure their names were on the donor list.
Watson’s response to the fines
Watson is quoted as writing in the letter: “A gambling license should be a hallmark of credibility and trust. It should not be seen as an opportunity for operators to push the limits of their conditions and responsibilities.”
“The regulator cannot be in a position where it is continually playing catch-up to an opaque and agile global industry. We need a structured response to the situation. This will require a total overhaul of our register of current remote sector licenses.”
“This review would be an opportunity for existing remote license holders to re-apply for the privilege of operating and marketing in the UK.”