The United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC), which is the main regulatory body for all things gambling in the country, has issued a huge £11.6 million fine against Betway, a famous bookmaker. While this isn’t the first time the Commission has fined gambling operators, this is by far the biggest amounts to date.
According to the available information, the UKGC decided to take this measure because of the bookmaker’s repeated failures to block some of their VIP gambling addicts as well as receiving stolen funds without doing necessary checks.
The hefty fine was possibly inspired by the recent public criticism directed against the UKGC. Many have accused the Commission of being too weak and lenient when dealing with gaming operators, allowing them to get away with a “slip on a wrist” instead of revoking their licenses.
Ignoring Red Flags
UKGC’s investigation into Betway has shown serious slipups in the due process. In one case, a customer was allowed to deposit more than £8,000,000 in the span of four years. Although the account was repeatedly flagged as a potential risk (20 times in total), the bookmaker decided to ignore every single of these warnings and continued to accept deposits and allow the customer to keep playing.
In another less extreme case, a player lost £500,000. The player in question was self-excluded but kept opening new accounts, reaching the grand total of 11. Once again, Betway continued to accept deposits from this player as if everything was perfectly fine.
It’s not certain if these were the only cases of Betway allowing the risk behavior to continue without any actions. The record-breaking fine in excess of £11.5 million suggests that there were other instances as well. Plus, this wasn’t the only area where the bookmaker failed to follow UKGC’s rules and guidelines.
Failing to Check the Source of Funding
The UKGC also discovered that Betway didn’t perform due diligence when it comes to checking their players’ sources of funding. This is a very important step and the one that the regulator has been focusing a lot on lately as it helps prevent money laundering and using stolen funds.
However, Betway failed to implement proper checks, allowing certain players to open as many as 10 different accounts. This isn’t allowed by the bookmaker’s own terms and conditions but they either failed to notice it or decided to look the other way because these were VIP players who made large deposits.
To make things worse for the bookmaker, some of these players were using stolen funds to fund their gambling, which put the company in a really bad spot. The Commission decided to issue a hefty fine, one half of which will go towards the victims of these thefts, while the other half will be directed to various gambling addiction programs.
UKGC Picking up Speed
Despite some opinions, the UKGC has been doing a lot to try and put an end to bad business practices of certain gambling operators. Back in 2017, they fined 888, another huge iGaming company, with £7.8 million, which was the biggest single fine issued by the Commission up until the Betway affair.
However, it is clear that there are certain pressures on the UKGC to do more and this latest step could just be one of many to follow in the near future. The possibility of having to deal with such big fines will likely act as an inspiration for major companies to make sure their business is done according to legal requirements.
It’s important to note, though, that the UKGC hasn’t suspended any gaming licenses thus far, which would be the real punishment for irresponsible operators. Many believe that these amounts, as big as they may seem to ordinary people, are but a drop in a bucket for these companies and don’t really achieve their intended goal.
Even if all this is true, it’s quite clear times have changed for the gambling industry in the UK and the operators are no longer allowed to do whatever they feel like. With much stricter advertising guidelines in place, betting limits imposed on High Street bookies, and the potential of such limit also coming to online casinos, there have been many changes the gambling companies in the UK have to deal with – and it doesn’t seem things will get any easier.