Gambling Commission fines LeoVegas £1.3m

| By Robert Fletcher
The Great Britain Gambling Commission has ordered LeoVegas to pay a fine of £1.3m (€1.6m/$1.6m) after identifying a series of failings, many related to setting triggers too high.

Following a review of the online gambling operator’s licence, the Commission found that between October 2019 and October 2020, LeoVegas breached a number of its licence conditions.

Breaking down some of the breaches, the regulator said the social responsibility failures included LeoVegas setting spend triggers for safer gambling team customer review that were significantly higher than the average customer’s spend without any explanation as to how this was appropriate.

The operator was also found to have set the point at which customers were made to take a 45-minute cool-off period at six hours of play, without explaining why.

As well as its triggers being set too high, the Commission said LeoVegas also failed to act on its own policy of interacting with customers that had denied deposits, cancelled withdrawals, long gaming sessions or gambling sessions that took place late at night or early in the morning

In addition, the Commission said LeoVegas did not sufficiently take into account guidance issued by the regulator in 2019 on customer interaction.

The AML failures included setting financial triggers for anti-money laundering reviews too high.

The Commission said LeoVegas also “relied too heavily on ineffective threshold triggers and inadequate information” to determine how much a player can spend.

The regulator also said that there were inappropriate controls to stop players that LeoVegas knew little about spending a large amount of money in a short space of time.

Specific rule breaches included paragraphs 2 and 3 of licence condition 12.1.1 on anti-money laundering, which relate to the prevention of money laundering and terrorist financing, as well as paragraph 1 of licence condition 12.1.2, also in reference to AML.

LeoVegas was also found to have failed to comply with paragraphs 1(a),1(b) and 2 of social responsibility code of practice (SRCP) 3.4.1 in relation to customer interaction.

In addition, the Commission said LeoVegas did not comply with SRCP 3.9.1 regarding the identification of customers and failed to act in accordance with ordinary code provision (OCP) 2.1.1 in reference to AML.

LeoVegas, 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 AML and social responsibility policies, procedures and controls.

The regulator noted that LeoVegas cooperated with the Commission throughout the investigation and has taken appropriate remedial action to address the identified failings.

“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,” the Commission’s director of enforcement and intelligence, Leanne Oxley, said.

“This case is a further example of operators failing to protect customers and failing to be alive to money laundering risks within their business.”

LeoVegas may soon be acquired by land-based giant MGM Resorts, after the LeoVegas board unanimously recommended shareholders approve an acquisition offer from MGM. MGM will pay SEK61 (£4.90/€5.85/$6.16) per share to acquire all of LeoVegas’ share capital. MGM said it will finance the deal through its existing cash reserves.

However, a month after the offer was announced, the Swedish Economic Crime Authority launched a preliminary investigation into suspected insider trading in LeoVegas’ shares related to the deal.

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