Five UK-facing online gambling operators may lose their licenses due to serious anti-money laundering and player prevention failings, the UK Gambling Commission confirmed on Friday.
The UK gambling regulator also published a letter it had sent to all of its licensees, reminding them that they need to make sure their operations are compliant with anti-money laundering regulations and that they are providing their services in a socially responsible manner.
The Commission’s letter was distributed in the wake of the regulator’s recent compliance assessment activity. The UKGC pointed out in its letter that its findings were not comprehensive enough yet and that it is set to compile additional reviews and reports, but what it had found was enough to give clear indication that operators need to take immediate actions in relation to their compliance with established codes and government acts.
The letter states that the Commission has already opened investigation into 17 remote gambling operators and is considering the possibility to commence a review of the licenses of five such operators.
The regulator’s letter to the operators came after several of its licensees had been imposed heavy fines last year for violations of UK gambling regulations of different nature, and after a series of warnings the UKGC had addressed operators with in relation to their operations.
The Commission’s Latest Findings
In its letter, the regulatory body explained that there have been operators that have failed to conduct proper assessment of risk of their business in relation to the possibility of it being used for money laundering and terrorist financing.
Under UK gambling regulations all licensed operators are required to conduct such assessments, including upon the introduction of new technology and products, and in cases of material changes and changes of customer demographic. Gambling firms are also required to carry out proper customer due diligence and to alert relevant authorities about any irregularities they spot.
The Commission has also reminded operators may have failed to open communication with customers with apparent problem gambling behavior. The regulator advised operators to ensure that they have deployed proper policies for customer interaction and for adequate response to any instance of problem gambling behavior.
Commenting on the latest events, the UKGC’s outgoing Chief Executive, Sarah Harrison, said that it is vital for operators to “take [their] duty to protect consumes and keep crime out of gambling seriously”, and that the regulator’s new strategy addresses namely that.
Ms. Harrison announced her departure from the Commission in December after spending over two years at the regulator’s helm. She presided over a tumultuous period for the UK gambling industry, which included a wave of consolidation, the culmination of the controversy surrounding fixed-odds betting terminals, and most recently, the heavy blows inflicted upon the growing online gambling sector.
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