The online gambling operator firm Betway have earned themselves a record fine of £11.6 million from the United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC) after admitting to a charge over a series of social responsibility and money-laundering failures. The charge is related to their treatment of their high spending customers and VIP members.
This fine consists of a £5.8 million payment which will be returned to the victims of their mismanagement and could yet rise further following a future reviews of the Win Technologies owned brand’s top 25 customers for each year over the period, a commitment Betway agreed to undertake as part of their punishment.
Alongside the financial penalty, Betway have also agreed to conduct a review of all current UK customers who have not been reviewed in the past six months, applying its current Anti-Money Laundering and social responsibility processes, review any new customers who could be considered to be high risk by the Commission and review next year’s compliance development road maps. Betway have also pledged to retrain all personal management licence holders, senior management and key control staff in Anti-Money Laundering and social responsibility as well as release a full assessment of Betway’s top 25 customers for each year since 2015.
Failed To Live Up To Problem Gambling Pledge
The £5.8 million figure directly relates to a UKGC investigation which found that exact amount had been allowed to wash through their operation. The Gambling Commission also said that there was sufficient grounds to believe that these funds had either been found or could reasonably be suspected to be, proceeds of crime.
As part of their investigation, the regulator focused in on seven Betway VIP customers, one of which was found to have deposited around £8 million over four years, losing half of this and at no point was ever quizzed by the operator where the funds had come from. In a separate case, the UKGC discovered that the operator had failed to live up to its mandatory problem gambling pledge with a customer who lost the entirety of his £187,000 deposit inside of two days.
In some of these cases, these incidents were referred to Betway’s board of directors who decided to allow the gamblers to keep playing, leading to the police intervening. The firm also allowed one unemployed customer to deposit £1.6 million without verification and accepted £494,000 from another customer who had 11 different accounts with the company, at least one of which had signed up to self-exclusion.
In a statement, Betway Chief Executive Anthony Werkman took full responsibility for the cases which led to this investigation, for which Betway cooperated fully, and subsequent record penalty.
Gambling Commission executive director Richard Watson struck a threatening measure when he said,
“The actions of Betway suggest there was little regard for the welfare of its VIP customers or the impact on those around them.
As part of our ongoing programme of work to make gambling safer we are pushing the industry to make rapid progress on the areas that we consider will have the most significant impact to protect consumers. The treatment and handling of high value customers is a significant piece of that work and operators are in no doubt about the need to tackle the issue at speed.
We have set tight deadlines for when we expect to see progress and if we do not see the right results then we will have no choice but to take further action. This case highlights again why progress needs to be made”.
Out Foxed By The Major Gambling Firms
While the UKGC had already commissioned the industry review, led by Ladbrokes Coral owner GVC Holdings, into their incentivisation practises concerning their high-spending customers, the regulator has still been forced to face criticism that it is too weak, with the National Audit Office (NAO) suggesting that the commission was being out foxed by the major gambling firms.
In January, Betway were accused of grooming gambling addicts through VIP schemes so the fins doesn’t come as much of a surprise.
UK betting companies have been fined more than £19 million over the past financial year for failing to protect problem gamblers and stop money laundering. Betway’s latest penalty beats the previous largest penalty when saw 888holdings were forced to fork out over £7.8 million for failing vulnerable customers.