Mr Green, an online gaming operator, is paying £ 3m to the National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms after the Gambling Commission found that it did not have effective procedures to prevent harm and money laundering.
Mr Green’s was found to have failed over the following:
- Did not carry out social responsibility interaction with a customer who won £50,000, gambled it away and deposited thousands more pounds
- Took ten-year-old evidence of a £176,000 claims payout as satisfactory evidence of source of funds for a customer who deposited over £1m
- Accepted a photograph of a laptop screen showing currency in dollars on an alleged crypto trading account as adequate SOF.
Richard Watson, executive director of the Gambling Commission, said: “Our investigation uncovered systemic failings in respect of both Mr Green’s social responsibility and AML controls which affected a significant number of customers across its online casinos.
“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 – and we will continue to crack down on operators who fail in this area.”
The settlement agreement is a £ 3 m payment instead of a financial penalty and costs of £ 10,349.77 to the Commission.
During the investigations, customers who were able to gamble substantial sums of money without the company conducting adequate enhanced due diligence and source of funds checks, were identified by the Gambling Commission. A review of Mr Green’s top 120 existing customers revealed that 113 had to be closed because they failed to pass AML checks on Mr Green.
Mr Green has acknowledged that it did not have appropriate policies and procedures in place between 1 November 2014 and 7 November 2018 for customers who may show symptoms of problem gambling. This led to Mr Green not always noticing and engaging with customers who showed signs of problem gambling and, even when the mechanism of customer interaction was initiated, a failure to follow through with an interaction occurred. These were not necessarily documented where encounters had taken place.
The Licensee has agreed to complete an evaluation of conformity of the next 130 top clients. Once this is complete, all of its top 250 clients (measured by lifetime Gross Gambling Yield) will have been evaluated.
Mr Green, who was acquired by William Hill after these incidents, acknowledges that significant lessons from these cases have been learned and has invested in improving his AML and responsible gambling processes. It also notes that it is committed to working with industry to raise standards, particularly with regard to safer gambling.
This is the ninth gaming company to face prosecution as part of a regulator investigation that has resulted in penalty payments of more than £ 20 m since 2018. In addition to the online casino compliance work, the Commission’s ongoing strategy is to make online gambling safer.
This included reinforced online age and identity verification, enhanced rules and guidance on identifying and interacting with clients who may be at risk of harm, and credit card banking. The regulator is also pushing industry to raise standards in the areas of VIP practises, advertising technology, and game design, and is currently looking into the limits of online stakes.