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Kindred brands fined £7.1m by GB Gambling Commission

| By Robert Fletcher
Great Britain’s Gambling Commission has fined Kindred Group-owned 32Red and Platinum Gaming a total of £7.1m (€8.0m/$8.8m) for a series of social responsibility and anti-money laundering (AML) failures.
Gambling yield Q4 Britain

Kindred’s 32Red, which runs 32Red.com, will pay £4.2m, while Platinum Gaming, operator of Unibet in Britain, was ordered to pay £2.9m. 

Both brands also received an official warning following a Commission investigation.

Social responsibility failures

Breaking down some of the findings, the Commission said it had identified a number of social responsibility failures, including that 32Red customer gambling session times should have prompted earlier identification of those who may have been experiencing gambling related harm.

The regulator also said that 32Red controls were not effective as they failed to identify and protect potential problem gamblers. The Commission gave one example of how a player was able to deposit £43,000 and lose £36,000 within seven days.

While the Commission said customer interactions at 32Red took place and were logged, these were found to be superficial and lacked depth, with the operator settling for customer assurances that they were comfortable with their level of gambling and could afford it.

As for Platinum Gaming, the Commission found that it failed to have effective policies and procedures designed to identify separate accounts held by the same individual. Offering an example, the regulator said self-excluded or blocked customers were able to register after being blocked or self-excluded on the 32Red platform.

In addition, Platinum Gaming was found to have failed to identify and interact with players who may have been experiencing harms associated with gambling.

Anti-money laundering failures

Turning to AML and failures included how 32Red failed to thoroughly implement measures set out in the Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing and Transfer of Funds (Information on the Payer Regulations 2017).

Customer account reviews identified that financial triggers for AML reviews at 32Red were too high and not appropriate to effectively manage money laundering and terrorist financing risks. In turn, this allowed what the Commission described as “significant” levels of gambling to take place within a short space of time without the operator knowing anything about customers’ financial situations.

32Red customers subject to a source of funds or source of wealth request were, in most cases, not restricted from depositing and gambling during the two-week period allowed by the operator to respond to the request. 

The regulator also identified an over-reliance on confidence that funds coming through firms regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) mitigated or removed proceeds of crime risk.

The Commission highlighted one case in particular where a 32Red account was not deposit blocked, in line with its own policy and procedures, after an information request deadline expired. This allowed the customer to continue depositing, gambling £16,280 and losing £8,321 for a further two weeks until their account was blocked.

Looking at Platinum Gaming, the regulator said its policies, procedures and controls for AML were not appropriate.

Platinum Gaming, the Commission said, failed to ensure its policies, procedures and controls were kept under review and revised appropriately to ensure that they remained effective.

Licence breaches

In terms of specific licence transgressions, the Commission ruled 32Red breached paragraphs 2 and 3 of licence condition 12.1.1, which relates to AML and preventing money laundering and terrorist financing. 

32Red was also found in breach of paragraph 1 of licence condition 12.1.2, covering AML and the measures for operators based in foreign jurisdictions. 

In addition, the Commission said 32Red failed to comply with paragraphs 1 and 2 of social responsibility code of practice (SRCP) 3.4.1 on customer interaction. 

As for Platinum Gaming, the Commission said it was also found guilty of the same licence condition and SRCP breaches, as well as SRCP 3.9.1 for the identification of individual customers.

“These failures highlight clearly that both operators failed to interact with customers in a way which minimises the risk of them experiencing harms associated with gambling,” Commission executive director Kay Roberts said. 

“Our investigations also showed that policies and procedures were overlooked, both around customer accounts and anti-money laundering practices.

“Ultimately, it is an example which all gambling operators should take notice of to ensure they protect their customers at all times.”

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