The United Kingdom Gambling Commission has confirmed that 10Bet, which is the trading name of Blue Star Planet, has been asked to pay £620,000 after an investigation found that it had failed in its social responsibility and money laundering responsibilities.
The money will all be put towards ‘socially responsible causes’, with the fee being agreed as part of a settlement between Blue Star Planet Limited and the Gambling Commission. As part of the statement on the matter, the UKGC reminded all operators that they had a duty to review their own practices.
The licences that are issued by the Gambling Commission allowing companies to offer any and all gambling wares to the British public include some legally binding duties that are in place to ensure that the public is protected and that betting can’t be used as a method of engaging in money laundering. The UGC carried out an investigation of 10Bet and discovered that it had failed in a couple of important areas, which is why it ended up being issued with the fine. In reality, it is a much lower fine than might otherwise have been given out.
On the seventh of September 2021, the Gambling Commission launched a Section 116 review of Blue Star Planet Limited in the wake of an investigation into the practices of the company. The review found failings in the way that the company carried out the processes that were put in place in order to limit the possibility of money laundering, as well as to protect vulnerable people. The failings were discovered after the UKGC catted out compliance assessments on the 22nd, 23rd, 24th and 25th of June 2021 and discovered the following information:
Between November 2019 and June 2021, Blue Star Planet Limited failed to comply with several Licence Conditions and Codes of Practice:
- Paragraphs 1, 2 and 3 of licence condition 12.1.1, which requires compliance with the prevention of money laundering and of terrorist financing.
- Licence condition 12.1.2, which requires operators that are based in foreign jurisdictions to comply with the Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing and Transfer of Funds (Information of the Payer) Regulations 2017.
- Paragraph 1a of licence condition 8.1.1, which asks licences to provide facilities for remote gambling to display on every screen that customers are able to have access to gambling facilities information that shows that they are licensed by the Gambling Commission
- Paragraphs 1b, 1c and 2 of Social Responsibility Code Provision 3.4.1. That requires licensees to ensure that any interaction with customers is carried out in such a way so as to ensure that the customer’s risk is minimised, reducing the risk of them experiencing any harm associated with gambling, as well as to take into account all of the UKGC’s guidance on customer interaction
Blue Planet Didn’t Argue
Perhaps one of the reasons why Blue Planet Limited weren’t issued with too high a fine by the UKGC was the fact that the company admitted that it’s AML Risk Assessment was inadequate in a number of areas. This included a lack of acknowledgement of certain high-risk factors, which were determined to be relevant under Regulation 33 of the 2017 Regulations. In addition, there were certain customer risks that were specifically mentioned in the Gambling Commission’s anti-money laundering guidance that weren’t followed.
Whilst the UKGC pointed out a number of aggravating factors around how Blue Star Planet Limited deal with things, it also acknowledged there were some mitigating factors that needed to be considered. The mitigating factors included the extent to which steps were taken to remedy the breach, the fact that Blue Star Planet admitted its failings early in the process and that the Licensee was co-operative throughout its time dealing with the Gambling Commission over the issues, which ensured that things went relatively smoothly.
What Gambling Operators Should Bear In Mind
As is often the case when the UKGC issues a fine, they have reminded other operators of their responsibilities. The Gambling Commission told operators to ask themselves a series of questions, starting with whether they have formal processes in place in order to be able to measure how effective their Anti-Money Laundering and safer gambling policies are, as well as whether their findings are correctly recorded. In addition, operators need to think about whether they efficiently record all of the compliance-related decisions that they have made.
The UKGC may, from time to time, ask for evidence that companies are carrying out ongoing assessments and evaluations of their procedures, so having a record of it all is helpful. Within that, it is important that the lessons that are learned from public statements can be shown to flow into their policies and processes. Customer risk profiles should be either formed by or else linked to money laundering and terrorist financing risk assessments when possible, which is another thing that the Gambling Commission wants to see evidence of.
It is important for well-functioning gambling companies to have a formalised process that allows them to analyse how effective their customer interactions are, as wells the ensure that their reviews are consistent in their approach and well-documented. Any behaviour that has triggered a customer interaction should be noted, as well as any decisions about not interacting with the customer. It is vital that all staff receive good training regarding the Anti-Money Laundering processes that the company has in place for its customers.
The Fine That Needs To Be Paid
Ultimately, the Gambling Commission was able to reach a settlement with Blue Star Planet Limited around the situation that it found itself in because of the investigation into 10Bet. The first thing that was decided was that the company would pay £620,000 in lieu of a financial penalty. That money will be directed to some socially responsible causes. The company also agreed to the publication of a statement of the facts related to the case, whilst also paying the £3,571.25 that the Gambling Commission incurred in expenses.
Given the relatively small nature of 10Bet and its parent company, Blue Star Planet Limited, there will be some that feel as though a payment of £620,000 is a fair amount of money for them to have to part with. Given the size of fines issued to some other companies that have breached such licensing responsibilities, however, there will be a feeling that actually it wasn’t large enough. Regardless, the nature of the beast is such that it is a good amount of money that can be put towards socially responsible causes at a time when the Gambling Commission is heading into a state of flux.