The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) is increasing the number of compliance inspections, fines and regulatory settlements, and operators are increasing their inquiries relating to potential compliance failings, according to Richard Bradley, Partner and gambling industry compliance expert at Poppleston Allen, one of the largest firms of licensing solicitors in the UK.
Just this week, Yogonet reported that, after an investigation carried out by the UKGC that revealed a series of anti-money laundering and social responsibility failings, sports betting and gaming giant Entain will pay a financial penalty of GBP 17 million ($20.5 million).
Entain will pay GBP 14 million ($16.8 million) for failures at its online business LC International Limited, which runs 13 websites including ladbrokes.com, coral.co.uk, and foxybingo.com. It will also pay GBP 3 million ($3.6 million) for failures at its Ladbrokes Betting & Gaming Limited operation which runs 2,746 gambling premises across Britain.
“Our advice to operators, over and above the obvious reminder to regularly review compliance processes meticulously, with a particular focus on monitoring customer accounts and player behaviour, is to be proactive and cooperative when engaging with the Gambling Commission," Bradley said in a statement on Wednesday.
"Where operators identify their own non-compliance concerns, they should act swiftly to assess all relevant details and implement a robust action plan in a timely manner. If the failings must be notified to the Gambling Commission, this should be completed at the earliest possible stage. Where the Commission raises concerns, operators should engage with the Commission and be able to identify the measures to be implemented to resolve any suspected breaches, presenting effective operational solutions,” he added.
Poppleston Allen is seeing an increased level of inquiries relating to potential compliance failings, as it also notices that the UKGC is increasing the number of compliance inspections. "It's clear that operational scrutiny is intensifying, and in the event of any failures, waiting to be caught out and taking a reactive rather than proactive approach could result in more severe penalties. Fines and regulatory settlements are also increasing, particularly for repeat offenders, and there is always the risk of licence revocation, albeit that is currently reserved for the most serious cases.
Earlier this month, UKGC fined Swedish online gaming company LeoVegas £1.32 million ($1.34 million) after investigations discovered social responsibility and anti-money laundering failures. The operator, which runs a series of sites – leovegas.com, slotboss.co.uk, pinkcasino.co.uk, betuk.com, and 21.co.uk –, is also receiving an official warning and will undergo an audit "to ensure it is effectively implementing its anti-money laundering and social responsibility policies, procedures and controls," the UK regulator said.
That move was swiftly followed by another fine on gambling operator Smarkets (Malta) Limited, which will pay a financial penalty of GBP 630,000 (over $760,000).
Back in June, UKGC CEO Andrew Rhodes reinstated the regulator’s commitment to reduce gambling harm, saying that the wait for the upcoming Gambling Act Review White Paper —which has recently been postponed for the fourth time— is no excuse to not tackle problems now.