The UK Gambling Commission has charged SkillOnNet a ‘payment in lieu of a financial penalty’ of £305,150 for social responsibility and anti-money laundering infractions.
SkillOnNet – which operates 50 websites, of which 15 are via white label arrangements such as gentingcasino.com, playtoro.com and slotstars.com – becomes the latest in a long series of firms targeted by the UKGC for licence branches.
In the aftermath of the White Paper publication, the regulator continues to ensure that non-compliant operators face repercussions, following £76m in regulatory enforcement actions issued between January 2022 to April 2023.
Regarding SkillOnNet, the UKGC explained that the company had failed to prevent gambling from being a source of or associated with crime, to ensure that the practice is conducted fairly and openly and protect vulnerable people from harm or exploitation.
Specifically, the regulator summarised that Skill on Net had insufficient policies, procedures and controls to comply with AML and responsible gambling responsibilities, as well as ‘weaknesses in implementation’ in the case of the latter obligation.
For example, SkillOnNet customers were able to deposit and lose more than double the £2,000 limit the firm had set in place, driven by assumptions that some customers were ‘recycling’ or ‘restaking’ winnings.
Failure to identify these at-risk customers and associated markers of harm was further compounded by ineffective interactions. The UKGC argues that the interactions conducted by the firm were ‘not effective in capturing the necessary information’ to make a risk assessment.
As well as failing to identify money laundering risks and establish effective policies, the UKGC also found SkillOnNet to have failed to adequately utilise account information the regulatory made available to the company.
The salaries and risk profiles of customers were also not adequately considered, a requirement for a nominated officer to provide an annual report on AML was not followed and there was an overreliance on verbal comments and monetary thresholds.
Payment failures saw Skill on Net accused of failing to consider payments from unknown third parties of a customer, organised crime groups and mule accounts and information on money laundering and terrorist financing risks.
Although the UKGC did find failings after two periods of special measures against SkillOnNet, the regulator did count the steps taken by the firm to rectify breaches, its acceptance of the failings and action ‘in a timely manner’ as mitigating factors.
The £305,150 charge chosen by the Commission will be used to fund social responsibility causes, whilst SkillOnNet will pay a further £9,079 to cover the costs of the investigation and has agreed to a third-party audit.