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Gambling Commission issues Gamesys with £6.0m fine

| By Robert Fletcher
Great Britain’s Gambling Commission has fined Gamesys £6.0m (€7.0m/$7.6m) over a series of social responsibility and anti-money laundering (AML) failings.
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The Commission said it identified the failings at Gamesys during a compliance assessment in May 2022. The regulator added that the fine related to activity between November 2021 and July 2022.

Ballys Corporation-owned Gamesys operates 16 sites in the UK including Ballycasino.co.uk, Doublebubblebingo.com, Jackpotjoy.com and Megawayscasino.com. Alongside the fine, it will undergo a third-party audit to ensure it is effectively implementing AML and safer gambling policies.

“Our focus as a regulator is to ensure that operators are employing policies and procedures which make gambling fair, safe and crime-free,” the Commission’s executive director of operations, Kay Roberts, said. 

“We take this responsibility extremely seriously. Whenever we find failures in policies and procedures then the business can expect significant regulatory action.”

Gamesys blasted over social responsibility failures

Announcing the fine, the Commission also set out some of the incidents noted at Gamesys during the investigation. In terms of social responsibility failures, these included not always identifying customers at risk of experiencing harms associated with gambling. 

There was an inappropriate reliance on checks which indicate whether a customer had a historical individual voluntary arrangement or been bankrupt or insolvent as a sign of gambling harm.

The Commission also referenced a system of deposit limits which, for some customers, did not identify risks of harm. For example, no risks were identified when one player deposited £8,255 within three days of opening an account. Another customer lost £5,968 within five weeks of opening their account and another lost £17,482 within 34 days.

Other social responsibility failures included not always interacting with customers who may be at risk of, or are experiencing, gambling harms. An example of this was carrying out one responsible gambling interaction with a consumer who lost £19,709 over five months.

In another instance, Gamesys only contacted a player after they lost almost £10,000. In the same case, “responsible gambling interaction” involved the recommendation of new games and promotions. 

Also related to social responsibility, the Commission criticised Gamesys for not always recording sufficient detail regarding interactions, considerations, and rationale for decisions. This is despite this being specified in the licensee’s responsible gambling procedures.

Concerns raised over AML failings

Turning to AML, the Commission also noted several failures. These included some customers evading certain AML triggers/thresholds and spending significant sums without AML checks being conducted. One player deposited £14,585 in 28 weeks, another £18,884 in six months and a third £34,280 in just five and a half months.

The Commission also flagged Gamesys for inadequate customer due diligence and over-reliance on third-party information or the customer’s verbal assurances. One user deposited over £25,000 in three months, another £58,000 in six months and another over £65,000 in six months.

In addition, the regulator hit out at Gamesys’ reinvestment of winnings policy. It said this was insufficient to mitigate the risk deposited funds could be from illegitimate sources and not previous winnings.

Commission sets out specific breaches at Gamesys

Ruling on the case, the Commission published a breakdown of specific breaches of licence conditions.

These included paragraph two of licence condition 12.1.1 AML on the prevention of money laundering and terrorist financing. It also referenced paragraph one of licence condition 12.1.2 AML for measures for operators based in foreign jurisdictions.

The Commission also said Gamesys did not comply with paragraphs one and two of Social Responsibility Code of Practice (SRCP) 3.4.1 on customer interaction. In addition, the regulator highlighted non-adherence to Ordinary Code Provision (OCP) 2.1.1 AML on Commission guidance for remote and non-remote casinos.  

These failings led to the £6.0m fine and an additional condition to Gamesys’ operating licence in the UK. The Commission noted Gamesys co-operated throughout the investigation and advised that it had taken corrective steps.  

In addition, the regulator said it found no evidence of criminal monies being deposited by the specific customers looked at during its review.

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