UKGC to Review Five Licences Over Money-Laundering Fears
The UK Gambling Commission has written to 17 online casino operators after discovering that companies were failing to prevent money laundering, terrorist financing and problem gambling.
Of all the online casino companies that have been warned, five are already being considered for a licence review as a result of the “serious nature” of early findings. Online casinos are required to have a valid UKGC licence to operate. If the UKGC decides to revoke permission, the companies would be forced to cease operation in the UK.
The letter, which was also published online, makes reference to the licence condition 21.1 – ‘prevention of money laundering and terrorist financing’. The commission said several companies had hired money laundering reporting officers with no formal qualifications who were “unable to provide suitable explanations as to what constitutes money laundering”.
The commission also accused online gambling companies of failing to submit information regarding suspicious activity to the National Crime Agency and other law enforcement groups. In terms of problem gambling prevention, the commission found instances where customers displayed clear signs of problem gambling, but no customer interaction was triggered.
It is vital that the gambling industry takes its duty to protect consumers and keep crime out of gambling seriously – Sarah Harrison, Gambling Commission Chief Executive
The Gambling Commission announced its new strategy for a fairer and safer gambling market in November last year. Harrison said that the action taken to examine online casino operators’ compliance with money laundering and customer interaction requirements was just one example of how it will be relentless in turning that vision into reality.
She added: “As the online sector continues to grow, and now accounts for a third of the British gambling market, it is right that we maintain a sharp focus on online gambling. That is why in addition to our work on compliance among online casino operators, we have also been conducting a wider-ranging review of online gambling looking at how the market has evolved and to identify where further action can be taken to make gambling fairer and safer for consumers.”
Tom Watson, Labour’s deputy leader and vocal opponent of the UK gambling industry and its practices, said: “This serious warning shows many online gambling companies acting as if money laundering and gambling addiction being facilitated on their platforms aren’t their problem.
“The Gambling Commission is right to demand immediate improvement. No firm that fails to take its responsibilities seriously should be allowed to hold a licence.”
The Remote Gambling Association said: “Keeping crime out of gambling is one of the three licensing objectives and if the commission has identified failings in this area then it must take action.
“It would be wrong to prejudge the outcome of their investigations, but we would obviously want to work with them to raise standards wherever necessary.”