FCA Investigates Bank Account Access and Closures for Gambling-Related Individuals

The UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has signaled its intent to investigate instances where individuals with links to the gambling industry have had their bank accounts closed for anti-money laundering (AML) reasons. This move comes as part of the FCA’s broader review into access to and closures of UK payment accounts.

In response to a query raised by the Gamblers Consumer Forum (GCF) regarding the “de-banking” of individuals and businesses connected to gambling transactions or the gambling sector, the FCA has expressed its commitment to understanding the extent of account denials, suspensions, and terminations. The regulator has requested information from major account providers to assess the impact on various customer groups.

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Historically, some banks have chosen to close accounts associated with gambling activities due to perceived higher AML risks and obligations. The FCA’s investigation comes in the wake of a UK scandal involving politician Nigel Farage, whose account with prestigious banking firm Coutts was closed in June, sparking wider discussions about account closures, particularly within the gambling sector.

Nikhil Rathi, Chief Executive of the FCA, stressed the importance of striking the right balance between access to bank accounts and the threat of financial crime, taking into account firms’ risk assessments and commercial interests. He also highlighted the need for a broader debate on whether all individuals, businesses, and organizations should have an inherent right to access a bank account, a practice observed in some other countries.

As the FCA delves deeper into this issue, the discussions surrounding AML obligations and the impact of account closures on various sectors, including gambling, continue to evolve, raising questions about the future landscape of banking access in the UK.

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