The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has published its Compliance and Enforcement Report for the 2020/21 Financial Year, providing updates on fines and sanctions as well as ‘lessons learned’.
A total of £32.1 million in fines and regulatory statements was paid by a combined 15 operators, more than in any previous year.
Meanwhile, UKGC revoked the licence of one operator and nine personal management licence holders, whilst also suspending the licences of five additional operators.
Common poor practices identified by the Commission with regards to AML requirements included an overreliance on third party providers to carry out due diligence checks, delayed customer identification checks and a lack of methodology in risk assessments.
Some operators within the UK’s betting and gaming industry have also been accused of prioritising commercial considerations over meeting AML and social responsibility requirements, with firms criticised for focusing on avoiding negative press and preserving a positive brand reputation.
Andrew Rhodes, UKGC CEO, detailed that the Commission has seen “the same two weaknesses in almost every case’, referring to operators’ failure to meet anti-money laundering and social responsibility standards.
“These regulations are there for two very good reasons – to protect people and ensure that gambling is crime-free,” Rhodes remarked. “These rules underpin two of the three licensing objectives, without which it would be impossible for us to permit gambling as laid out in the Gambling Act 2005. So, adherence should be at the forefront of every operator’s mind.
“The reasons for these failings are almost as concerning as the failings themselves. Our casework reveals that operators are either not making suitable resources available or are simply putting commercial objectives ahead of regulatory ones. This is simply unacceptable and will be seen as such by others in the industry who work hard to achieve compliance.”
Moving forward, the UKGC has confirmed that it will update its guidance based on a number of ‘lessons learned’ through the Compliance and Enforcement Report, with the objective of raising standards with relation to “problem gambling vs gambling-related harms”, COVID-19 risks and responses to them and a national gambling harm reduction strategy.
Guidance for operators in administration – a topic which has been a major talking point after BetIndex entered administration earlier this year – was also provided by the Commission, which stated that going forward it would require copies of administrators’ reports and notifications if a company is placed into liquidation.