Another online gambling site has found itself on the receiving end of a fine from the United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC) following a targeted investigation by the regulatory body. Mr Green, which is currently owned by the William Hill brand after it purchased a 92% stake in the parent company, MRG for £245 million in January 2019, is the offending online platform, and is the ninth one hit by a fine from the UKGC.
The fine has been handed out to Mr Green for failure to protect players with a gambling addiction problem, while the Commission also mentioned that it did not have effective procedures in place to make sure that players were using legitimate sources of money for their betting. This fine comes as another in a series of online platforms being chastised for their actions over previous years. So far, over £20 million in penalties have been collected by the regulatory body since 2018.
That £3 million settlement payment will be added to the National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms fund set up by the UKGC. It comes in lieu of a financial penalty and Commission costs of £10,349.77. Those costs are due to Mr Green failing in several areas, including:
- Not carrying out social responsibility interaction with a player who won £50,000 at the site, then gambled it away and deposited additional thousands of pounds
- Accepting a photograph of a laptop screen showing currency in US dollars, on an account that was supposedly of a cryptocurrency user, and believing this to be an acceptable proof of source of funds (SOF)
- Taking 10-year-old evidence of a £176,000 claims payout as satisfactory evidence of SOF from a customer who had deposited more than £1 million
Ninth Online Site to Be Fined by UKGC
Mr Green isn’t the first platform to have been hit with a fine from the UKGC, as it has been investigating all licensed sites over the past couple of years. Previously, four gambling businesses were forced to pay out a collective £4.5 million in penalties as part of the same investigation. This occurred back in May of 2019, and it saw the following fines being handed out:
- InTouch Games Limited paid £2.2 million
- Betit Operations Limited paid £1.4 million
- MT Secure Trade paid £700,000 in lieu of financial penalties
- BestBet paid a financial penalty of £230,972
All fines at the time were due to the aforementioned companies failing to have effective safeguards in place against money laundering and problem gamblers.
Additionally, since the investigation started back in 2018, six operators have chosen to surrender their UK licences, meaning that they have now exited the British market. And prior to the four fines mentioned above, three companies paid out a collective £14 million in penalty packages to the Gambling Commission for the same infringements.
Mr Green Accepts Its Shortcomings
The Executive Director of the Gambling Commission, Richard Watson released a statement on the most recent fine on Mr Green, saying that the investigation uncovered systematic failings. This, he said, “affected a significant number of customers”. Mr Watson went on to say that consumers in Britain “have the right to know that there are checks and balances in place which will help keep them safe and ensure gambling is crime-free,” before promising to continue on with the crack down on any operators that fail to live up to the necessary standards.
Mr Green accepted the fact that between November 1, 2014 and November 7, 2018, it did not have any effective policies and procedures in place to ensure that customers displaying signs of gambling addiction would have options available to them. It was due to this that the platform also didn’t identify and interact with its customers who were displaying such signs.
The brand has also agreed to complete a compliance assessment of its next top 130 customers, and once that has been completed, it will have completely assessed its top 250 players.
By doing so, Mr Green will have invested more in improving its AML compliance controls and responsible gambling processes. It has also stated that it intends to work alongside the industry in order to raise the overall standards for both of these areas.