UK Gambling Commission cracks down on online operators with tough licence conditions

Posted on November 2, 2020

The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has investigated three online gambling operators for failures in social responsibility and money laundering. This is part of the Gambling Commissions continuing plan to raise the standards of online gambling through enforcement. With virtual betting sites being in their infancy, it looks like there may need to be some tough enforcement of regulations to maintain the safety of the consumers.

GAN PLC, BGO Entertainment Ltd, and NetBet Enterprises are the three operators that are now undergoing licence reviews after an investigation uncovered several issues. According to the Commission, they have failed to keep consumer’s safe and did not prevent money laundering or criminal spend.

As a result of the investigation and reviews of the operators, two of them, BGO and Gan PLC, have had new conditions imposed on their licences, and all three will now improve their policies and procedures as well as making payments to progress the work of the National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms.

Comment from the UKGC

The executive director at the UKGC, Richard Watson, commented:

“Licensees must protect consumers from harm and treat them fairly. Our recent investigations uncovered a variety of consumer protection and anti-money laundering failings at each of these three operators and as a result we are using a range of enforcement tools against them. We will continue to crack down on failing operators through our tough and proactive compliance and enforcement work.”

Breakdown of offences

What follows is the official breakdown of the issues found at each company and what has been set in place by the UKGC to counteract it.

BGO Entertainment Limited

“BGO failed to have effective policies and procedures in place for customers who may be displaying signs of problem gambling between 25 September 2018 and 23 March 2020. It also failed to have effective and adequately resourced anti-money laundering controls in place between 25 September 2018 and 21 July 2020.

As a consequence, BGO will have additional conditions imposed on its licence which involve carrying out extra social responsibility and anti-money laundering checks on its top customers. The business will also pay £2m to support the implementation of the National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms.”

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GAN PLC

“Between August 2018 to September 2019 GAN failed to comply with four licence conditions focused on social responsibility and anti-money laundering. Failures included having ineffective anti-money laundering policies and procedures, not displaying warnings that underage gambling is an offence on its website and poor customer interaction guidance.

As a consequence, GAN will have additional conditions imposed on its licence which involve continued reviewal of the effectiveness and implementation of its AML and SR policies, procedures and controls, and extra training for personal management licence holders and senior staff. The business will also pay £146,000 to progress the National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms.”

NetBet Enterprises Limited

“Between 20 November 2018 and 29 May 2019 NetBet failed to comply with two licence conditions focused on social responsibility and anti-money laundering. Failures included not carefully scrutinising source of funds documentation provided by customers and not implementing its responsible gambling policy effectively.

As a consequence NetBet will make a number of changes to its processes including giving greater regard to the log-in time of its customers during responsible gambling customer assessments, automatic limits placed on customers demonstrating early signs of problem gambling and providing consumers with access to an affordability calculator.

The business will also pay £748,000 to progress the National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms.”

 The companies have also provided public statements on the UKGC website.

Final Thoughts

The Covid-19 pandemic has changed the nature of gambling and betting, the closure of betting shops and the suspension of professional sports earlier in the year has moved many people online who would have otherwise bet in person.

We have seen growth in esports betting, virtual betting, and online casinos. All it takes is a few lazy or malicious operators taking advantage of the system and these new or returning online consumers could be at risk. It may seem heavy handed to some, but these strict regulations are needed for the safety of the average consumer and their wallet.

Featured Image Credits: UK Gambling Commission
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Andrew Boggs

Andrew is a Northern Ireland based journalist with a background in esports and VR reporting. He grew up in County Down, Northern Ireland, and graduated from Ulster University with a Masters's degree in Journalism.

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