Each week, CasinoBeats breaks down the numbers behind some of the industry’s most interesting stories. Further UKGC enforcement action, New York’s potential igaming entry, AUSTRAC proceedings, and a Scientific Games rebranding campaign, all feature in our latest look back at a selection of last week’s headlines.
The UK Gambling Commission issued a fine of £9.4m to gambling group 888, after an investigation discovered social responsibility and money laundering failings.
This became the second enforcement action taken against 888 UK, which operates 78 websites, after paying a £7.8m penalty package in 2017 for “failing vulnerable customers”.
Among the failings, which also saw an official warning issued and an order to undergo “extensive independent auditing,” was not effectively identifying players at risk of harm.
This, the regulator added, was due to policies determining that financial checks should only be carried out after a customer had deposited £40,000.
In addition, social responsibility failings included not carrying out a customer interaction with a customer who lost £37,000 in a six week period during the COVID-19 pandemic; allowing an NHS worker, which it was said that the group knew earned £1,400 per month, to set a monthly deposit cap of £1,300, and a lack of evidence of the operator proactively placing restrictions on accounts where such concerns were raised.
On an AML basis, the UKGC stated that 888 permitted one customer to spend £65,835 in five months without source of funds checks being carried out, as well as accepting verbal assurances from customers as to employment income and being reliant on open-source information to validate SOF.
The Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre confirmed that it has commenced federal court civil penalty proceedings against Crown Resorts’ Melbourne and Perth venues.
AUSTRAC, whose investigation was launched in October 2020, alleges that “series and systemic” non-compliance with Australia’s anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing laws has taken place.
Last month, Crown itself conceded that it was “likely” for such proceedings to begin, and that the aforementioned facilities would “be required to pay significant civil penalties”.
Among the allegations are a failure to appropriately assess the money laundering and terrorism financing risks faced, including their likelihood and impact, as well as identifying and responding to changes over time.
It further claims that the company did not include appropriate risk-based systems and controls to mitigate in AML/CTF programs, failed to establish an appropriate framework for oversight, and did not have a transaction monitoring program to identify suspicious activity that was “appropriately risk-based or appropriate to the nature, size and complexity of Crown”.
The US’ online gambling gold rush is showing no signs of slowing down, with New York state looking to make an online casino push following thes debut of digital sports betting.
This has seen Senator Joseph Addabbo introduce Bill S8412, which is seeking to amend the racing, pari-mutuel wagering and breeding law in relation to authorising interactive gaming.
If authorised, this would permit both commercial casinos and tribal nations to operate online slots and table games within state boundaries, with each casino or operator given the nod to conduct mobile interactive gaming wagering to pay a $2m fee.
This, said the summary, would “remain in effect for ten years,” with the New York State Gaming Commission to subsequently “establish and implement a process for renewal”.
The Kansspelautoriteit confirmed the impending expiration of its “so-called cooling-off period of two years and nine months that was applied when assessing an application for an online gambling licence”.
Established as a pre-market provision in 2019 as ministers settled on the final framework for the new regime, the ‘cooling-off period’ was applied to allow unlicensed operators to apply for licenses as long as they refrained from actively targeting Dutch consumers.
This was applied to ensure that the gambling ecosystem, launched on October 1, 2021, would commence on a ‘level playing field’, with no operator given a pre-market advantage.
Furthermore, the regulator added that its cooling-off period would help the market’s long-term channelisation as igaming consumers would likely end-up playing with eventual licensees.
Scientific Games pulled back the curtain on the latest stage of the group’s ongoing transformation, which, in the culmination of “a year-long strategic process,” saw the group become Light & Wonder.
This, it said, was done with “singular focus to be the leading cross-platform global game company”, accelerating efforts to de-lever and invest for sustainable growth.
The Light & Wonder revamp represents the latest in a series of strategic moves undertaken by the group, with its lottery divestiture, providing approximately $5bn in net cash proceeds, expected to close during this month, followed by the offload of its sports betting business during the year’s second quarter.
The company will operate under an assumed name until a legal name change is complete in spring 2022. At that time, it intends to start trading under a new stock ticker it has reserved, LNW.
GAMSTOP asserted that self-exclusion remains “an increasingly important tool” for those looking to remove themselves from online gambling, after reports that registrations “remained high” throughout the year.
The free national scheme for self-exclusion reported a 28 per cent year-on-year increase in registrations during 2021, with a “significant spike” of 25 per cent YoY reported through the first six months of the year.
The group also reported a 32 per cent increase from July to December 2021, which took the total number of registrants to more than 257,000 by the turn of the year.
It is also highlighted that “the number of women signing up to GAMSTOP continues to grow,” with that figure now standing at 75,000 of its total and is expected to exceed 100,000 by the end of the year.
Rush Street Interactive asserted that it is focused on “building a sustainable long-term business” with “profitability the goal since founding” almost ten years ago, as the group eyes further North American launches in the near future.
The comments, which came as the group’s losses widened during the fourth quarter and full-year of 2021, have seen Rush Street look towards a pair of key debuts in building upon its expanding digital footprint.
During the first half of the current year, expansion into Ontario and Mexico via online casino and sportsbook sites and apps are targeted, with Richard Schwartz, CEO of RSI, commenting that the firm “are well positioned to achieve success”.