Another fine has been issued by the UK Gambling Commission, and this time it’s been served to Daub Alderney – a subsidiary of online bingo operator Stride Gaming who own 10 brands across the bingo and casino sectors.
An investigation into the business was first launched in 2017, and today it’s been announced that a huge £7.1m fine has been issued to Daub for breaching money laundering regulations and also failing to protect vulnerable consumers.
Owner of Kitty Bingo and Magical Vegas, Daub was made aware of the issue in October 2017 and accepted it had breached its licence conditions. In January 2018, the Commission started its review and later referred it to its regulatory panel who decided that Daub Alderney had failed to follow anti-money laundering measures and comply with its social responsibility codes of practice.
The fine isn’t completely unexpected to the industry, however, as Stride had made provisions for a £4m penalty. But this estimate has fallen short of the extra £3.1m they are now required to pay.
Gambling Commission executive director Richard Watson explained that this fine is part of ongoing investigations into online casino operators' business practices.
"The operator’s standards did not match the protections required, and this fine reflects the seriousness of these lapses,” Watson explained.
Daub Alderney carried out an own audit of their customers who’d deposited £50,000 since they opened their accounts. Daub found that they didn’t have sufficient or acceptable information on the ‘source of the funds’ for 742 accounts. As a result, they closed all accounts where they couldn’t get the needed data.
The Commission said Daub Alderney has “ceased transacting with those customers and accounts have been blocked to prevent deposits or withdrawal”.
There was also an issue with their Social Responsibility policy and procedure not being satisfactory. Officials noted that problems that linked to identifying anti money-laundering risks like payment details not matching the customer and duplicate accounts, weren’t used to determine customers who may have potential gambling problems.
This included previously self-excluded customers trying to gamble using a payment card belonging to someone else. There was also evidence of customers "being offered free spins or Amazon vouchers to retain their business, but it was not clear that this was appropriate".
Stride Gaming chairman, Nigel Payne explains: "We remain disappointed with the particular circumstances of this case and with certain factual inaccuracies which were presented by UKGC to the Regulatory Panel in the course of the proceedings, which we believe coloured the size of the fine that has been imposed."
"We are of the view that both the industry and its regulator must be as one in its combined attempt to better regulate the industry and accordingly, we will be seeking to engage with the UKGC to improve the robustness of the process that we have just been through," Payne added.
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