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Updated by Dale Shelabarger
Mr Green has been fined £3m by the UK Gambling Commission for ‘systemic failings’ relating to its efforts, or lack thereof, in combating money laundering and problem gambling. The William Hill owned company was sanctioned following an extensive investigation by the UKGC that has seen gambling firms paying around £20m over the past two years.
It was announced on Thursday that the company had consented to pay £3m to the National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms. As part of its investigation, the UKGC examined three Mr Green player accounts and identified a number of transgressions, including a failure to perform the relevant checks on a player who won £50,000 and then spent the entire sum on additional bets.
The Commission also found that Mr Green had accepted ten year-old evidence of a £176,000 claims payout from a customer who deposited £1 million. The UKGC’s ‘source of wealth’ policy stipulates that a customer must present satisfactory documentation and proof that they’re not spending beyond their means or laundering money.
In another case, Mr Green accepted a laptop screenshot of a cryptocurrency trading account as sufficient proof of wealth. Richard Watson, executive director of the Gambling Commission, was suitably outraged by the findings and criticised Mr Green.
‘Our investigation uncovered systemic failings in respect of both Mr Green’s social responsibility and anti-money laundering controls which affected a significant number of customers across its online casinos.’
He went on:
“Consumers in Britain have the right to know that there are checks and balances in place which will help keep them safe and ensure gambling is crime-free – and we will continue to crack down on operators who fail in this area.”
Mr Green subsequently conducted an in-house review, closing more than 100 player accounts.
The UK Gambling Commission has already handed out fines to betting firms such as Ladbrokes Coral, Paddy Power, Sky Casino and William Hill. The latter was hit with a £6.2 million penalty in February of last year due to poor financial vetting processes. In 2017, gambling firm 888 was given a £7.8 million fine after more than 7000 people were allowed access to its site after voluntarily excluding themselves.
Speaking at the time of the 888 sanction, Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, declared:
“Any online operator that thinks it can ignore its duty to protect players should take note today – there will be consequences. Protecting vulnerable consumers is our prime concern, and it must be the priority for gambling operators too.’
These aggressive measures are part of a wider crusade by the UKGC to ensure that standards in anti-gambling measures in the UK are the “highest in the world”. Recently, it was announced that a ban on betting with credit cards was under consideration. So it seems that the attack on gambling firms in all verticals shows no signs of abating any time soon as is shown with Mr Green fined this much money. We will of course keep you posted of any new developments as and when they arise.