Mr Green to pay SEK31.5m fee for Swedish high-depositing customer failings

| By Conor Mulheir
William Hill-owned operator Mr Green has been issued with two separate warnings and penalty fees totalling SEK31.5m (£2.6m/€3.1m/$3.6m) from Swedish regulator Spelinspektionen in relation to KYC, AML and responsible gambling failures.
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Spelinspektionen issued the operator with a SEK30m penalty relating to failures in its duty of care with regards to responsible gambling, and a further warning and SEK1.5m penalty for failures in its anti-money laundering (AML) and know your customer (KYC) responsibilities.

The case against Mr Green started after Spelinspektionen received complaints about the operator in November 2019. A review of its AML measures was launched by the regulator, examining 15 customer accounts.

Several of the customers had been reported to the financial police by Mr Green, which Spelinspektionen said indicated that the operator had suspicions of money laundering relating to some of its registered accounts.

A number of customers making total deposits of over SEK1m were investigated, including one who made deposits totalling SEK39.3m and lost a total SEK3.2m. This customer was found to have a declared income which barely covered the year’s losses.

After the customer ceased playing with the operator, Mr Green decided not to take any further action to investigate the possibility of money laundering.

A further five customers were audited in relation to the operator’s responsible gambling measures. The investigation found that Mr Green had attempted to contact all five customers either by email or phone, in relation to increases in their gambling activity.

However, one customer was found to have made several deposits per day on various occasions and was reported to have lost more than their announced taxable income with the operator for several years.

Spelinspektionen said this showed that the customer was at higher risk of gambling-related harm than of engaging in money laundering or illicit activities, as they showed signs of a possible gambling problem.

Mr Green closed the customer’s account in July, 2020. Further accounts were closed by the operator in 2020 in relation to responsible gambling measures. However, Spelinspektionen ruled that sufficient contact had not been made with those customers with high deposit limits of over SEK10,000 to ensure they were gambling with their own funds and doing so responsibly.

A number of other customers lost amounts that were more than three times their annual income within a year, including one who lost six times their income.

In its response to Spelinspektionen, Mr Green said some of the customers who were suspected of money laundering had not been identified due to the introduction of a new detection system which encountered technical problems and failed to flag the customers as high-risk.

The operator said it has now implemented a better case management system which assists in performing customer risk assessments, and has gradually increased the number of money laundering investigators in order to manage the increase in customers in need of profiling.

A larger number of customers than expected have been flagged by the newly implemented automated detection systems, the operator said, and a system of placing customers in a ‘queue’ according to their level of risk meant there were delays in investigating all of the flagged customers.

In response to its responsible gambling failures, Mr Green said that under its new routines, any high-risk customer who does not respond to email or telephone contact will have their account closed until such contact can be made.

Spelinspektionen concluded, however, that Mr Green’s knowledge of all the audited customers was insufficient, as the operator would otherwise not have maintained its relationships with them.

It said that if such failures continue to occur repeatedly or systematically, the regulator may revoke Mr Green’s Swedish licence.

The size of the penalty, like all in Sweden, was based both on the severity of the offense and Mr Green’s revenue.

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