Online gambling operator Entain plc has been fined £17 million ($20.6 million) for extreme negligence of social responsibility and failure to crack down on money laundering across its online and onshore operations.
The group paid £14 million for its online business, LC International Limited, which operates 13 websites, and £3 million for Ladbrokes Betting & Gaming Limited, which operates in the UK.
In addition to the fines, the Entain group could be facing serious consequences regarding its operations. Losing its UK license is something within possibility and would not frowned upon, considering the seriousness of the matter.
Among the issues identified by the Gambling Commission, the report noted slow or zero interactions with customers to minimize their risk of gambling-related harm. For example, there had only been one single chat interaction with an online customer who for an extended period of 18 months lost £230,845.
No cross-label checks
Another extreme case of non-compliance was the possibility for customers to open multiple accounts with the licensee’s other brands, subject to requirements and restrictions. A customer who was been banned from using the Coral brand for spending £60,000 in 12 months without providing a source of funding, could without problems open an account with the Ladbrokes brand and deposit £30,000 in one day. Sources familiar with the matter confirmed to iGaming.org that business processes until recently have not been properly automated to prevent this from happening, a known issue.
With regards to anti-money laundering, the group did not properly assess the risk assessment of its online business for money laundering and terrorist financing, allowing online customers to make large deposits without properly verifying the source of funds.
To illustrate the offence, a customer was able to deposit £742,000 within 14 months without verifying the proper source of funds, while another customer known to be part of a social housing program, could deposit £186,000 in six months, without being flagged.
Largest Gambling Penalty Enforced in UK
UK Gambling Commission CEO, Andrew Rhodes, said:
“Our investigation revealed serious failures that have resulted in the largest enforcement outcome to date.
“There were completely unacceptable anti-money laundering and safer gambling failures. Operators are reminded they must never place commercial considerations over compliance. This is the second time this operator has fallen foul of rules in place to make gambling safer and crime-free.
“They should be aware we will be monitoring them very carefully and further serious breaches will make the removal of their licence to operate a very real possibility. We expect better and consumers deserve better.”
In a press release, Entain responded to the enforcement:
“Entain accepts that certain legacy systems and processes supporting the operations of its British business during 2019 and 2020 were not in line with the evolving regulatory expectations of the Commission in respect to aspects of social responsibility and anti-money laundering (“AML”) safeguards. However, the Group also notes the Commission’s statement that it found no evidence whatsoever of criminal spend within Entain’s operations.”
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