White Hat Gaming is to pay £1.3m in lieu of a financial penalty, which will be directed towards delivering the National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms, after a UK Gambling Commission investigation into the group’s handling of seven customer accounts.
The assessment, which formed part of the regulator’s ongoing compliance work, identified failings in the way online operator identified and managed customers who were at higher risk of money laundering and problem gambling.
The UKGC updates that its assessment “has led to the operator overhauling its approach to social responsibility and the prevention of money laundering”.
Inadequate anti-money laundering and social responsibility procedures led to failures including not establishing the source of funds for a customer who lost £70,000 in three months, ineffective interaction with both a second customer who lost £50,000 in just six hours, and a third customer who lost £85,000 in just over one hour.
The Commission says that it investigated the customers accounts following concerns identified at a compliance assessment in March 2019, with the failures occurring on the operator’s www.grandivy.com, www.21casino.com, www.hellocasino.com and www.dreamvegas.com websites.
The UKGC notes that “White Hat Gaming cooperated with our enquiries throughout the course of the investigation,” and has accepted that its policies and procedures in respect of AML and safer gambling were not adequate, and that it failed to act in accordance with conditions on its operating licence between October 2016 and March 2019.
Richard Watson, Commission executive director, said: “Through our tough compliance and enforcement activity we will continue our work to raise standards in the industry and continue to hold failing operators to account.”
In addition to paying a £1.3m regulatory settlement, White Hat Gaming has committed to an ongoing programme of improvements to strengthen its policies and procedures.
These improvements include the automated prevention of more spending once limits are hit, an increase in safer gambling customer interactions, more robust source of funds checks and regular reviews of anti-money laundering controls and processes.