The head of the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC), Andrew Rhodes, warned several times last year that the gaming regulator would increase the fines on repeat offenders. He’s holding true to that threat, going after In Touch Games (ITG) and giving the gaming operator its biggest fine to date.
ITG operates 11 online gaming platforms in the UK, including bonusboss.co.uk, slotfactory.com, cashmo.co.uk, and more. Despite having a solid history in the UK gaming market, it still hasn’t been able to figure out the UKGC’s playbook.
In 2019, the regulator presented it with a “settlement” of £2.2 million (US$2.72 million) after it determined the company violated anti-money laundering (AML) and social responsibility rules. In 2021, ITG received another penalty worth £3.4 million (US$4.2 million) for similar reasons.
Three Strikes or Third Time’s the Charm
After reviewing the company’s various operations last year, the UKGC determined that ITG had, once again, failed to uphold its standards. This led to it now receiving a fine of £6.1 million (US$7.5 million), according to the regulator.
The executive director of operations for the UKGC, Kay Roberts, acknowledged that the increased penalty was the result of the company’s continued issues. She said that the regulator expected to see vast improvements and was disappointed that ITG continued to fall short.
The operator reportedly failed to adopt the Commission’s AML policies. In addition, it allegedly didn’t bother to implement its own alternatives that would have allowed it to address AML concerns.
One example involved a few customers who had what most would consider a normal spending habit. The unidentified individuals deposited £10,000 (US$12,372) in 12 months. However, ITG never asked them to verify the source of the funds.
There were also failings on the social responsibility level, just like in the past. As an example, the UKGC cited a customer who ITG didn’t contact for almost two months after an alert indicated questionable spending patterns.
Another example was a customer who told ITG he earned £6,000 (US$7,423) a month. The operator took him at his word and never sought to verify the statement. It wasn’t until the user was gambling at strange hours that the operator took a closer look.
Gaming Fines on the Rise
The UKGC has a history of issuing big-money fines, including its record £17 million (US$21 million) fine against Entain last year. However, it isn’t alone.
Gaming regulators across the globe were busy going after operators last year. In the US, the UK, Australia, Sweden, and the Netherlands, they hit operators with $128.91 million in fines and sanctions.
That’s 166% more than the $48.64 million they collected a year earlier, according to gambling industry website USA-Casino. The fines were for everything from AML violations to unlicensed operations.
Entain received the biggest fine on record by the UKGC, but it wasn’t the biggest fine a regulator issued. Star Entertainment in Australia took that honor with its massive AUD100 million (US$70.83 million) fine for gross negligence and repeated AML breaches.
If Richard Schuetz is correct, 2023 could see even more fines. The former California Gambling Control Commission commissioner predicts greater scrutiny this year, especially in the US market.
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