UKGC directs online operator Gamesys to pay £6 million over AML and social responsibility failures

Industry

The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has directed gaming operator Gamesys to pay a £6 million ($7,636,350) penalty after the Commission investigation revealed social responsibility and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) failings, and breaches that occurred between November 2021 and July 2022.

The Commission noted that Gamesys – which operates 16 websites including ballycasino.co.uk, doublebubblebingo.com, jackpotjoy.com, and megawayscasino.com – will also have to undergo a third-party audit to ensure it is effectively implementing its anti-money laundering and safer gambling policies, procedures and controls.

Kay Roberts, Executive Director of Operations, said: “Our focus as a regulator is to ensure that operators are employing policies and procedures which make gambling fair, safe and crime-free. We take this responsibility extremely seriously and whenever we find failures in policies and procedures then the business can expect significant regulatory action.”

The Commission announced that failures were revealed during a compliance assessment in May 2022.

The social responsibility failures of Gamesys included:

The commission said that Gamesys did not always identify customers at risk of experiencing harms associated with gambling. This was done by evading the following responsibilitites: 

  • Placing inappropriate reliance on checks that indicate whether a customer had a historical individual voluntary arrangement or been bankrupt or insolvent as a sign of gambling harm. 
  • Having a system of deposit limits which, for some customers, did not identify risks of harm quickly enough – no risks were identified when one customer deposited £8,255 ($10,503) within three days of opening an account, another lost £5,968 ($7,594) within five weeks of opening account and another lost £17,482 ($22,246) within 34 days of opening an account. 
  • Not always interacting with customers who may be at risk of or experiencing harm associated with gambling. 

The examples social responsibility failures, as stated by the Commission include:

  • Only interacting with one customer once they had lost almost £10,000 ($12,727), and that ‘responsible gambling interaction’ involved the recommendation of new games and promotions. 
  • Carrying out only one responsible gambling interaction with a consumer who lost £19,709 ($25,083) over five months.
  • Records of interactions, considerations, and rationale for decisions were not always recorded in sufficient detail, despite this being specified in the Licensee’s responsible gambling procedures.

According to the Commission, following were Gamesys Anti-money laundering failures

In certain circumstances, some customers were able to evade some of the licensee’s AML triggers/thresholds and go on to spend significant sums without AML checks being conducted – one customer deposited £14,585 in 28 weeks, another deposited £18,884 ($24,037)in just over six months and another deposited £34,280 ($43,635) in five and a half months.

Conducting inadequate customer due diligence and being over-reliant on third-party information (such as internet research) or the customer’s verbal assurances for a number of customers, including one who deposited over £25,000($31,807) in three months, another who deposited over £58,000 in six months, and another who deposited over £65,000 ($82,699) in six months. 

Having a ‘Reinvestment of winnings policy’ which was insufficient to mitigate the risk that deposited funds could be from illegitimate sources and not just from previous winnings.

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