The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has announced tighter licensing conditions for three online casino operators following an investigation which found several failings for each of the three firms.
The Commission, which is responsible for regulating all gambling in the UK, announced the news this week, revealing that operators BGO Entertainment Limited, NetBet Enterprises Limited, and GAN PLC are set to face tougher licensing conditions.
According to the Commission, the three operators were subject to license reviews after a series of failures were reported, including not doing enough to keep players safe and failing to prevent money laundering and criminal spend. As a result, BGO Entertainment and GAN PLC face new license conditions.
BGO reportedly failed to implement policies and procedures regarding customers who displayed signs of gambling-related harm between September 2018 and March 2020, and the group failed to implement anti-money laundering controls between September 2018 and July 2020.
The gambling firm, which owns websites like BGO Casino, is now required to carry out additional social responsibility and anti-money laundering checks on its top customers as part of a new licensing condition.
GAN PLC, which operates sites such as Reels Royale, failed to comply with four of its license conditions between August 2018 and September 2019 including failure to effective anti-money laundering policies and procedures, not displaying warnings that underage gambling is an offence on its website, and for its poor customer interaction guidance.
As a result of the findings, GAN PLC will also have additional conditions imposed on its license which includes continuous reviews of the effectiveness and implementation of its anti-money laundering policies, procedures and controls, as well as additional training for personal management license holders and senior staff.
NetBet, meanwhile, failed to comply with two of its license conditions between November 2018 and May 2019, including failing to correctly verify the source of funds documentation provided by several customers and not implementing its responsible gambling policy.
The gambling operator will now make a series of changes to its processes including giving greater regard to the log-in time of its customers during responsible gambling customer assessments, as well as the automatic implementation of limits placed on customers who display early signs of gambling addiction.
All three gambling operators have been told to pay fines to support the National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms. GAN will reportedly pay a total of £146,000, BGO is set to pay a whopping £2 million, and NetBet has been told to pay £748,000.
Richard Watson, the Executive Director at the UKGC, said in a statement: “Licensees must protect consumers from harm and treat them fairly. Our recent investigations uncovered a variety of consumer protection and anti-money laundering failings at each of these three operators, and as a result, we are using a range of enforcement tools against them.
“We will continue to crack down on failing operators through our tough and proactive compliance enforcement work.”
The news comes as the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) has announced that it’s baned a Gala Spins advert after receiving a complaint that it appealed to children.
According to Yahoo Finance, the advert in question appeared on Facebook back in August and featured five fluffy toy animals with the caption “It’s a rollercoaster of cuteness” which the ASA claims is “likely to appeal to under-18s”.
Following an investigation, the ASA deemed that, although the ad was shared on an adult-only Facebook page, there was insufficient protection for children as Facebook users can submit their own age to access the page.
The regulatory body ruled that the advertisement breached guidelines and issued a statement on its decision which reads: “We considered that the cartoon-like imagery of five stuffed toy animals was likely to appeal to under-18s.
“We considered the game’s name ‘Fluffy Favourites’ and the ad’s caption ‘It’s a rollercoaster of cuteness’, were likely to strengthen that appeal. We considered that those factors combined give the ad a child-like theme.
“For those reasons, we considered that the ad was likely to be of a particular appeal to under-18s, and therefore concluded that the ad was irresponsible and breached the Code.”
LC International Limited, which operates Gala Spins, claims they posted the eight-second video advertisement in “error” and that it intended to target women aged between 18 and 65 who are interested in gambling.
As a result of the ASA’s ruling, the advertisement has been removed from all of its social channels.
The news comes after the Advertising Standards Authority banned a Foxy Games gambling advert after it was deemed irresponsible. As we reported earlier this month, the ad was seen on Google back in July 2020 and appeared when users searched for the term “make money online”.
The Foxy Games ad displayed the words “Earn Money Online – Foxy Games – Play Online” and was banned for suggesting that gambling can be a solution to financial concerns or as an alternative to employment.
As we reported, the advertisement was banned from appearing in the form it was complained of, and Foxy Games was warned from suggesting that gambling is a valid method of earning money again.
Around the same time, the ASA received a complaint regarding a television advertisement for Betfair Casino which appeared in July 2020 and featured a man using the Betfair Casino app while waiting to board his flight as another man rushes to board his plane.
The complainant suggested that the ad portrayed gambling as taking priority in life but Betfair Casino had argued that it had taken care in ensuring that the advertisement complied with all guidelines and stressed that the ad had been cleared by regulator ClearCast which supported Betfair’s response.
In response, the ASA cleared the complaint, stating that Betfair Casino’s advertisement didn’t encourage irresponsible gambling behaviour or portrayed gambling as taking priority in life.
The ASA said of the ad: “We therefore concluded that the ad did not portray, condone, or encourage gambling behaviour that was socially irresponsible or portrays gambling as indispensable or as taking priority in life.”