LeoVegas fined £1.32million for AML and social responsibility failings

The Gambling Commission has today (3 August 2022) announced that on 11 July 2002 it imposed a £1.32million penalty on Malta-based remote gambling operator LeoVegas Gaming PLC, following an operating licence review finding that between October 2019 and October 2020 LeoVegas:

  • breached paragraphs 2 and 3 of licence condition 12.1.1. Anti-Money Laundering (AML) – Prevention of money laundering and terrorist financing
  • breached paragraph 1 of licence condition 12.1.2. Anti-Money Laundering (AML)
  • failed to comply with paragraphs 1(a),1(b) and 2 of social responsibility code of practice (SRCP) 3.4.1 (Customer Interaction)
  • failed to comply with SRCP 3.9.1 (Identification of customers)
  • failed to act in accordance with ordinary code provision (OCP) 2.1.1 (Anti-money laundering).

The Commission has also:

  • imposed a warning under section 117(1)(a) of the Gambling Act 2005 (the Act)
  • attached an additional condition to the Licensee’s operating licence under section 117(1)(b) of the Act requiring as follows: “The Licensee must undertake a third-party audit within 12 months of the conclusion of the review. The purpose of the audit is to examine whether the Licensee is effectively implementing its anti-money laundering and social responsibility policies, procedures and controls in accordance with its regulatory requirements. The Licensee must provide the Commission with a copy of the Audit report within 5 working days of it being received by it.”

The Commission has stated as follows in its announcement (that you can download below)

Gambling operator LeoVegas will pay a £1.32 million penalty for social responsibility and anti-money laundering failures.

The operator – which runs leovegas.com, slotboss.co.uk, pinkcasino.co.uk, betuk.com and 21.co.uk – will also receive an official warning and undergo an audit to ensure it is effectively implementing its anti-money laundering and social responsibility policies, procedures and controls.

Leanne Oxley, Gambling Commission Director of Enforcement and Intelligence, said:

“We identified this through focused compliance activity and we will continue to take action against other operators if they do not learn the lessons our enforcement work is providing. This case is a further example of operators failing to protect customers and failing to be alive to money laundering risks within their business.”

Social responsibility failures included:

  • setting spend triggers for Safer Gambling Team customer review significantly higher than the average customer’s spend without any explanation as to how this was appropriate
  • setting six hours as the point at which customers were made to take a 45-minute cool off period without explaining how they concluded that playing for six hours was the point at which harm would occur
  • not acting on their own policy of interacting with customers exhibiting indicators of harm including denied deposits, cancelled withdrawals, long gameplay sessions, gambling sessions occurring late at night or early in the morning
  • not sufficiently taking into account the Commission’s 2019 guidance on customer interaction.

Anti-money laundering failures included:

  • financial triggers for anti-money laundering reviews being too high and unrealistic to effectively manage money laundering and terrorist financing risks
  • relying too heavily on ineffective threshold triggers and inadequate information regarding how much a customer should be allowed to spend based on their income or wealth, or any other risk factor
  • inappropriate controls allowing significant levels of gambling spend to take place within a short space of time without knowing anything about customers’ financial situations.

Details of the full penalty can be found on the Commission’s register here, which adds comment that “The Commission’s review of the specific customers identified during the Compliance assessment found no evidence of criminal spend with the Licensee. The Licensee has co-operated with the Commission throughout the investigation and taken appropriate remedial action to address the identified failings.”