In a significant regulatory action, Gamesys Operations Limited, a prominent gambling business operating 16 websites, has been fined £6 million following a comprehensive investigation by the Commission into its social responsibility and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) practices. The investigation, which stemmed from a compliance assessment in May 2022, uncovered critical failings in the company’s operations.
Websites Under Scrutiny
Gamesys Operations Limited, which manages websites such as ballycasino.co.uk, doublebubblebingo.com, jackpotjoy.com, and megawayscasino.com, is now mandated to undergo an extensive third-party audit. This audit aims to verify the effective implementation of its anti-money laundering and safer gambling policies, procedures, and controls.
Nature of the Failings
The Commission’s assessment highlighted numerous areas of concern, particularly in social responsibility and anti-money laundering protocols. Social responsibility failures were evident in the company’s inadequate identification of customers at risk of experiencing harms related to gambling. Notably, Gamesys Operations Limited:
Relied inappropriately on checks indicating whether a customer had a history of financial distress as a sign of gambling harm.
Implemented a system of deposit limits that failed to identify risks of harm promptly. In one case, a customer deposited £8,255 within three days of opening an account without raising any red flags.
Showed a lack of interaction with customers potentially experiencing gambling harms. For instance, one customer was only approached after losing nearly £10,000, with the interaction focusing on recommending new games and promotions.
Anti-Money Laundering Shortcomings
The company also exhibited significant deficiencies in its anti-money laundering measures. These included:
Inadequate customer due diligence and an over-reliance on third-party information or customer assurances. This lapse allowed customers to deposit substantial amounts without triggering AML checks.
An insufficient ‘Reinvestment of winnings policy’, which did not adequately mitigate the risk of funds being derived from illegitimate sources.
Kay Roberts, Executive Director of Operations, emphasized the regulator’s commitment to ensuring that operators maintain policies and procedures that promote fair, safe, and crime-free gambling.
“We take this responsibility extremely seriously and whenever we find failures in policies and procedures then the business can expect significant regulatory action,” stated Roberts.
This fine represents one of the more significant penalties in recent times, underscoring the regulator’s determination to enforce compliance in the gambling industry.