The UK Gambling Commission has sanctioned five brick-and-mortar casinos after discovering a series of failings regarding safer gambling, anti-money laundering, and social responsibility.
According to a report from the UK Gambling Commission, the regulatory body discovered that casinos in question all failed to follow social responsibility and anti-money laundering rules set by the Commission.
As a result, Clockfair Limited and Shaftesbury Casino Limited are required to pay a £260,000 regulatory settlement, Les Croupiers Casino Limited is required to pay a £202,500 regulatory settlement, and Double Diamond Gaming Limited is required to pay a £247,000 regulatory settlement. Meanwhile, A&S Leisure Group Limited has received an official warning and a £377,340 fine.
In the UK Gambling Commission’s sanctions register, the regulatory body explained that it launched its investigations over concerns of how most of the casinos handled customers. In the investigations, the Commission found that most failed to comply in accordance with their licensing conditions and were penalised as a result.
However, the Commission has noted that the casinos accepted that they failed to act in accordance with their operating licenses and are reportedly taking action to ensure their policies, procedures and controls are implemented effectively.
Richard Watson, the Commission’s Executive Director, said in a statement: “These failings were identified as part of our ongoing drive to raise standards across the whole gambling industry. Every single operator must ensure they are following rules that are in place to make gambling safer and prevent it being a source of crime.”
The news comes days after the UK Gambling Commission imposed a £6 million fine on leading gambling operator Casumo after conducting an assessment into its operations and discovering several social responsibility and anti-money laundering failings.
Similarly, operator In Touch Games was fined £3.4 million for multiple failings and Football Index had its license suspended around the same time the gambling website went into administration and lost its BGC membership.
Entain Launches UK Affordability Model
While the above brick-and-mortar casino operators have failed to protect players, online operator Entain is working harder than ever to protect its users with the launch of its UK affordability model, which has been in development for the past 18 months.
According to CasinoBeats, the new affordability model has launched across all of the operator’s UK brands through its Advanced Responsibility and Care (ARC) player protection initiative, which combines open course and commercially available data with behavioural indicators.
The service will identify UK customers who are at risk of financial difficulty due to their gambling habits and implement affordability checks or betting limits to help them. Entain is reportedly continuing its development on the service to eventually include variable stake limits depending on a customer’s risk level.
Peter Marcus, the Group Operations Director for Entain, said in a statement: “We have been working on player affordability concepts for the past 18 months as part of our ARC affordability programme. This aims to identify relevant limits at the right time to protect customers whom our technology has identified as being vulnerable or particularly at risk.”
He continued: “This means the vast majority of customers who show no indications of financial risk can still bet with us freely. We think this is an important step in preserving personal freedoms, and will also greatly benefit the horseracing industry, which is concerned about the impact of blanket measures on its future viability.”
Jette Nygaard-Andersen, the Chief Executive at Entain, told SBC News: “We firmly believe that a more personalised, individual approach to player protection is the way forward which is why, for the most vulnerable customers, we have taken action as soon as we can. We are deeply committed to giving every customer the best experiences and protection we can, tailored to their particular needs.”
Tighter Gambling Restrictions & UK Gambling Act Review
Entain’s announcement comes amidst a debate over the tightening of safer gambling restrictions. A survey by the Gambling Health Alliance (GHA) from earlier this month found that the general UK public is in favour of tighter safer gambling measures.
The survey found that most of those polled backed a bet limit on video slots, a ban on VIP schemes, a new levy on the gambling industry, a ban on gambling advertisements, tighter affordability checks, a ban on any and all gambling activities for those aged under 18, and new rules which require casino products to be assessed before launching in the UK.
Last year, the Gambling Commission launched a consultation for feedback on tighter affordability checks on gamblers in the UK and in January 2021, the cross-sector Gambling Business Group (GBG) vented its frustration at the proposed new rules, describing them as “prohibition by another name”.
The BGB also claimed that tighter restrictions could lead gamblers to play at unlicensed websites, echoing the Betting and Gaming Council’s concerns over the illegal online black market. However, the concerns have been disregarded by the UK Gambling Commission, which has called them “exaggerated”.
Meanwhile, the UK Government launched its review of the Gambling Act 2005 last December with a call for evidence due to run until March 2021. The Government has already confirmed that the age for playing National Lottery games will increase to 18 from October this year.
The industry is expecting several major reforms as part of the review, including the possibility of a ban on football shirt sponsorships, tighter verification procedures, stake limits, and more. None have been confirmed yet, but ministers are expected to produce a White Paper on the future regulation of the gambling industry later this year.