UK Online Casinos Faulted by Regulators for Money Laundering Protections

The UK Gambling Commission has ordered all online casino operators presently taking UK bets to review their policies for preventing money laundering and terrorist financing. The order comes as the commission is investigating 17 online operators, which includes five that could face a formal license review. The crackdown comes after the commission said it made findings of a “serious nature” into how such organizations are meeting their social responsibilities.

The UK Gambling Commission is getting tough with online gambling operators and has issued an order for operators in the country to review their policies on preventing money laundering and terrorist financing.

The commission said it is currently investigating 17 online operators, which includes five that could face a formal license review. The five operators were not identified.

In a letter sent to operators, the commission said they must guarantee their staffs are appropriately trained in the law. The letter also advises operators to carry out risk assessments, including monitoring and risk profiling of customers.

“It is vital that the gambling industry takes its duty to protect consumers and keep crime out of gambling seriously,” Sarah Harrison, chief executive of the commission said in a press statement. “The action we are taking to examine online casino operators’ compliance with money laundering and customer interaction requirements is just one example of how we will be relentless in turning that vision into reality.

“As the online sector continues to grow, and now accounts for a third of the British gambling market, it is right that we maintain a sharp focus on online gambling,” the statement said. “That is why in addition to our work on compliance among online casino operators, we have also been conducting a wider-ranging review of online gambling looking at how the market has evolved and to identify where further action can be taken to make gambling fairer and safer for consumers.”

Failures identified in money laundering controls included companies hiring unqualified money laundering reporting officers who were “unable to provide suitable explanations as to what constitutes money laundering.” The commission said it found “a general lack of understanding of how criminal spend could affect the business,” and that companies were not submitting enough information about suspicious activity to law enforcement agencies.

The commission also found deficiencies in social responsibility provisions designed to protect problem gamblers. The commission said it identified customers showing signs of problem gambling, but that “this behavior did not trigger a customer interaction” by the companies.

In another matter, bookmaker Ladbrokes Coral said it will work to close a gender pay gap shown in government reporting.

Under the 2010 Equality Act, UK companies with more than 250 staff have to disclose yearly gender pay employee data. Ladbrokes Coral figures showed that its mean hourly pay for female staff is on average 15 percent less than for men.

The company said the gap is significantly impacted by its senior-level executive pay structure and the company admitted to having a “weak representation” of female executives.

“The gap in both our mean pay and mean bonus shows there’s more work to be done. And while we don’t have an equal pay issue across the Group, we do need to take steps to reduce our pay gap. That means we’re having a closer look at the structure of our workforce and in particular what we can do to get more women into those senior roles.” Ladbrokes Coral said in its Gender Pay report statement.

Also, UK Prime Minister Theresa May has appointed Matt Hancock as Culture Secretary. In his new role, Hancock will lead the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, as well as assume responsibility for horseracing and gambling.

Hancock’s appointment was largely welcomed by the UK gambling industry due to his past efforts to reform UK gambling taxes.

“Hancock has a full understanding of the industry and its dynamics and we look forward to working with him,” said Paul Darling, chairman of the Association of British Bookmakers.

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