Online casino Casumo has been fined £5.85 million and fellow operator Videoslots has made a voluntary payment of £1 million in lieu of a financial penalty as part of the Gambling Commission’s “ongoing investigation into the way the industry combats problem gambling and money laundering”.
The companies, which both run affiliate programs, join Daub Alderney after it was also hit with a £7.1 million fine earlier this month. This means that the amount in financial penalties and settlements deriving from the UKGC investigation for the month of November is roughly £14 million in total.
Another firm, 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. While nine other operators have been issued with ‘Advice to Conduct’ letters and a further six are still under investigation.
The UKGC has also taken regulatory action against the individuals responsible for the failings. 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.
Neil McArthur, UKGC CEO, 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, 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.”
Videoslots “accept there were weaknesses”
Videoslots published a statement in the immediate aftermath of the UKGC announcement, accepting that “there were weaknesses” and stressing that “proactive and timely action to address all the issues” has been taken.
The full statement read: “We confirm that Videoslots has entered a regulatory settlement with the Gambling Commission of Great Britain to conclude a review of our operating licence. Their investigations were part of a thematic review by the regulator into AML and responsible gambling compliance in the remote gambling industry.
“We are pleased that the Gambling Commission recognises that we were open and transparent from the outset of their investigation and fully cooperative throughout. We accept there were weaknesses in our systems relating to how we managed our customers for anti-money laundering and social responsibility purposes and have taken proactive and timely action to address all the issues identified.
“We have agreed to make a payment in lieu of a financial penalty which will go to a National Responsible Gambling Strategy project or projects to pay for research and treatment as determined appropriate to address the risk of harmful gambling and we have already started putting the lessons learned into practice.”