As anticipated, the Gambling Commission’s ongoing investigation into the way the industry combats problem gambling and money laundering has resulted in enforcement action being taken against yet further online casino companies. We have already reported (on 13 November) on the £7.1 million fine imposed on Daub Alderney Limited.
Today, the Commission has announced that, following operating licence reviews, Casumo Services Limited has been ordered to pay a financial penalty of £5.85 million and Videoslots Limited (t/a www.videoslots.com) will pay £1 million in lieu of a financial penalty.
You can download below the Commission’s press release, setting out a summary of the Regulatory Panel’s decision in the case of Casumo and the terms of the Regulatory Settlement in the case of Videoslots.
This means that, within little more than two weeks, the Commission has imposed nearly £14 million in penalties on three companies as result of their failings to put in place effective safeguards to prevent money laundering and keep consumers safe from gambling-related harm.
In addition, the Commission states on its website that “another company – CZ Holdings – will no longer be able to provide gambling services to consumers in Britain as it surrendered its licence after a licence review had been commenced. Nine other operators have been issued with Advice to Conduct letters and a further six are still under investigation”.
We have long forecast that the Commission will also take regulatory action against the individuals responsible for operators’ failings. That has now happened, the Commission stating that “three Personal Licence Holders (PML) have now surrendered their licenses, four have been issued with a warning and two have been issued with Advice as to Conduct notices. A further three individuals who hold PMLs are still under investigation”.
Commenting on this latest announcement, Neil McArthur, Commission CEO, has said:
I hope today’s announcement will make all online casino operators sit up and pay attention, as our investigations found that a large number of operators and their senior management were not meeting their obligations. It is not enough to have policies and procedures in place. Everyone in a gambling business must understand its policies and procedures and take responsibility for properly applying them. 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. 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.
Jeremy Wright, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, has added:
Any online operator that thinks it can ignore its duty to protect players should take note today – there will be consequences. Protecting vulnerable consumers is our prime concern, and it must be the priority for gambling operators too. There are robust requirements to safeguard players and prevent money-laundering which all businesses must adhere to if they wish to operate in the British market. I am pleased to see the Gambling Commission taking the strongest possible action when companies fail to meet their obligations.
The Commission is advising operators to read its Remote enforcement public statement – lessons to be learned regarding this investigation (that can also be downloaded below).
We strongly recommend that, in particular, all overseas based online casino operators licensed by the Gambling Commission do so, this most recent enforcement action for AML and social responsibility failings having been taken against operators based in foreign jurisdictions.
UPDATE: Ewout Wierda, General Counsel at Videoslots will be one of the panellists in the AML Update panel session that David Clifton is moderating at the KnowNow Keeping Crime out of Gambling conference being held at Prospero House, 241 Borough High Street, London, SE1 1GA on 22 January 2019.