Author: Joe Kizlauskas
Last Updated: 14th October 2023
Not long ago, Intouch Games was considered one of the rising stars in the UK’s online gambling space. With their unique selection of in-house designed games and innovative jackpot features, it looked like smooth sailing for this ambitious operator.
That all changed in September 2022, when Intouch surrendered its UKGC licenses and shut down operations abruptly. This stunning downfall serves as a sobering reminder that even promising gaming companies can crumble if they fail to meet regulators’ standards.
The Warning Signs
In hindsight, Intouch’s regulatory troubles were brewing for years before the final collapse.
In 2019, the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) fined Intouch £2.2m for failures related to money laundering checks, unfair terms and conditions, and poor incident reporting. Two years later, another £3.3m penalty followed for repeat offenses in anti-money laundering and transparency.
Clearly, Intouch was struggling to comply with the UKGC’s requirements around providing a fair, safe, and transparent gambling environment. However, the operator continued to grow its brand portfolio, acquiring sites like Jammy Monkey Bingo.
The hammer fell in 2022, when the UKGC issued its largest fine ever – £6.1m – again for Intouch’s lack of effective safeguards against money laundering and problem gambling.
The License Surrender
After repeatedly failing to meet regulatory standards, Intouch Gaming surrendered its licenses in September 2022. The UKGC stated this was under Section 116 of the Gambling Act, which relates to general regulatory compliance.
With its licenses gone, Intouch could no longer legally operate gambling sites in Britain. The UKGC warned that it retained the power to continue investigations and expected Intouch to promptly shut down.
Failures in Social Responsibility
A root cause of Intouch’s difficulties stemmed from inadequately fulfilling its social responsibility duties as a license-holder. All UK gaming companies must take steps to reduce gambling harm, especially to vulnerable groups.
Intouch repeatedly violated regulations around conducting affordability checks before allowing customers to deposit large sums. These “source of funds” checks are intended to prevent problem gambling spirals.
By neglecting thorough Know Your Customer (KYC) procedures, Intouch exposed itself to money laundering risks and allowed problematic playing patterns to develop undetected.
The UKGC dealt severely with these missteps given their social impacts and Intouch’s track record of non-compliance. Consumer safety is paramount.
What Happens Now?
While Intouch can no longer operate gaming sites, it retains duties around allowing customer withdrawals and providing account access. Players with remaining balances should contact support to redeem funds.
Intouch Gaming was acquired by Skywind in 2022, so fortunately software and jobs may be preserved under new leadership. Skywind holds separate UKGC licenses for its brands.
For the UK gambling sector as a whole, Intouch’s collapse is a stark warning about the consequences of lax regulatory adherence. Fines are not the end; losing authorization to operate is the ultimate sanction.
All operators, whether new startups or established brands, must embed responsible practices into their culture. For consumers, sticking to trusted sites with transparency and strong oversight is key.
This sobering episode shows that no gaming company is exempt from their social obligations. UK license-holders ignore their regulatory duties at their own peril.