The UK’s watchdog for legal gambling practises, the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC), has recently fined four gambling organisations for their failures in ensuring prevention tactics for money laundering. Issues regarding anti-money laundering (AML) compliance is rife within the online gambling industry, and one that the UKGC are currently focusing many of their efforts in fixing; helping in their fight to ensure all UK gambling institutions adhere to the country’s gambling laws.
Casino Market investigates the latest updates in how the UK’s gambling watchdog is hoping to improve AML compliance.
Four online gambling operators have recently been smacked with eye-watering fines for not complying with the UK’s standard AML regulations. The collective worth of all four of these fines totals up to a staggering £4.5 million. The four penalised operators include BestBet (£230,972), MT Secure Trade (£700,000), Betit Operations Limited (£1.4 million), and InTouch Games (£2.2 million).
The UKGC’s announcement of these recent penalties has coincidentally followed the regulator’s release of guidance, attempting to improve online operator’s knowledge on money laundering, terrorism financing, and helping to comply with the regulations put in place to prevent these issues from severely impacting the UK gambling industry’s economy.
The recently published guidance is a 98-page document informing operators with useful guidance from the official regulatory body the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). The FATF is responsible for developing and upholding the international regulations on anti-money laundering (AML). In addition to this, the organisation also establishes the standards on countering the financing of terrorism (CFT).
This recent guidance documentation published by the UKGC makes very apparent the risks and penalties associated with failure to comply with these standard AML regulations, with such statements in the documentation as follows:
“Senior management must be fully engaged in the processes around your assessment of risks for money laundering and terrorist financing. They must be involved at every level of the decision making to develop your policies and processes to comply with the Regulations” the commission followed up on this point, stating that “Disregard for the legal requirements, for example, turning a blind eye to customers spending criminal proceeds, may result in criminal or regulatory action.”
All four of these fines were put in place due to the operators failing to implement effective safeguards in the prevention of money laundering. The fines were also applied for failure to further keep the operator’s users out of harm’s way with such safeguards. Over the past year and a half, the UKGC have assessed 123 of the UK’s online casino operators.
Since the UKGC’s investigations began, 38 out of the 45 platforms who were told to improve their standards of operation have shown signs of such improvement. What is concerning is that only 34 of the 123 online casino operators assessed were shown to be compliant with the country’s regulatory standard practises for online gambling.
Last year, the investigations saw the surrender of five online gambling operator licenses, with three organisations having to fork out a total £14 million in penalty fines for not complying with the UK’s standard AML regulations. In addition to this, the penalty fines were also applied for failure in ensuring the safety of the operators’ users from gambling-related harm.
The Executive Director of the UKGC Richard Watson has commented on the authority’s current investigation, stating that “We have been working hard to raise standards in the online industry to ensure that gambling is crime-free and that the one in five people in Britain who gamble online every month can do so safely.”
Watson continues this point, commenting that the commission’s “work will not stop here. As a regulator, we will continue to set and enforce standards that the industry must comply with to protect consumers.” And that “We expect operators to know their customers and to ask the right questions to make sure they meet their anti-money laundering and social responsibility obligations.”
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