A total of £4.5 million is to be paid in penalties by four online operators, with the United Kingdom Gambling Commission noticing certain failings following investigations. This all comes as part of the Commission’s recent decision to take a closer look at the gambling sector of the UK.
The total penalty is to be split across four operators, with the largest sum coming from InTouch Games, which is to pay £2.2 million. Betit Operations comes next with a fine of £1.4 million to pay, while MT SecureTrade rolls in third with £700,000 and BestBet becoming the last operator with a £230,972 penalty to pay.
The failings that these brands have been charged with after investigation relate to lack of effective safeguards when it comes to the prevention of money laundering. Additionally, being unable to effectively protect consumers from gambling harm factors into the fines.
It’s quite the blow for the Gaming Innovation Group (GiG), of which both MT SecureTrade and Betit Operations are subsidiaries. Combining these two operators’ penalties means that there’s a loss of £2.1 million to be paid out to responsible gambling charities as per the negotiated regulatory settlements with the Gambling Commission.
Speaking of the penalties, the Chief Executive of GiG, Robin Reed said that both of the subsidiaries have acknowledged the previous weaknesses that they had in relation to their inability to meet social responsibility requirements. They “immediately took steps to address the gaps in its procedures”, according to Mr Reed. Because of the operators’ decision to do so, he said that the Commission has waivered any sort of sanction that may have come without such swift decision-making.
The Gambling Commission’s Investigations
It has been a long process, but over the past 18 months, the United Kingdom’s Gambling Commission has proceeded forth with various investigations into 123 different operators. Of this number, a total of 45 of them were informed that they needed to submit some sort of action plan to be able to raise their standards. And of that number, 38 have already showed marked signs of improvements. An additional 34 operators were already compliant with the standards set out by the UKGC or only had minor issues with their platforms.
Yet, since the investigations began taking place, five of the operators have chosen to surrender their licences and are no longer able to transact or provide their games to the UK market.
The Executive Director of the Gambling Commission, Richard Watson spoke of their intent to raise standards in the country’s online industry in a bid to make sure that gambling exists as a crime-free activity. However, he did say that the Commission’s work will not stop – instead, guaranteeing that the UKGC will continue to set standards and enforce such to the industry.
“We expect customers to know their customers”, Mr Watson said, before highlighting that having the knowledge of who is gambling at their sites will allow operators to meet the Commission’s anti-money laundering obligations.