The UK Gambling Commission continues to pile regulatory pressure — and seven-figure fines — on wayward online gaming companies. On Thursday, the regulator announced three operators had been hit with a total of £14 million ($18 million) in penalties for lax anti-money laundering oversight and failure to protect problem gamblers.
These include the second-biggest fine the UKGC has ever imposed — a $7.1 million ($9.4 million) penalty for Daub Alderney, which operates the Spin and Win, Lucky VIP, and King Jack Casino brands. The regulator found Daub Alderney’s monitoring of customers to be inadequate and said the company had failed to comply with the its social responsibility codes of practice.
Further, it failed to provide staff with regular training on how to recognize and deal with transactions and other activities that might relate to money laundering or terrorist financing. At the time of the review, the company had not even put into effect a written procedure for handling customer complaints and disputes.
Daub Alderney had also inadvertently permitted self-excluded gamblers to play due to a technical glitch, an infraction it self-reported to the regulator.
The UKGC noted that, since its review, Daub Alderney had adopted measures to improve its procedures.
Meanwhile, Casumo.com and Videoslots.com were fined £5.8 million ($7.4 million) and £1 million ($1.28 million), respectively, for a list of similar offenses, and both had also now taken steps to address their failings, the commission said.
A fourth company, CZ Holdings, apparently realized the game was up and voluntarily surrendered its UK license when it learned it was under review. CZ operates the Dr Vegas online casino which closed its doors to UK customers in July.
The UKGC said that three unnamed individuals have also been stripped of their licenses to serve as directors of gaming companies. A further six online gambling firms remain under investigation, it added.
The regulator has stepped up its oversight of online gambling companies over the past two years as British public opinion has turned against the industry.
In 2017, fines against UK gambling companies increased more than tenfold over the previous year, from £1.6 million ($2 million) to £18 million ($23 million). The UKGC has warned that penalties will continue to “escalate relentlessly,” unless the industry improves its standards.
“Anyone in a position of authority needs to be aware that we will not only act against businesses when we take regulatory action — we will also hold individuals to account where they are responsible for an operator’s failings,” said UKGC CEO Neil McArthur in an official statement.
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