Gambling Commission fraudster investigation brings £1.6m settlement

Platinum Gaming, which is licensed to operate Unibet.co.uk and uk.bingo.com, has become the latest company to make expensive failures in its social responsibility and anti-money laundering procedures. Following a Gambling Commission investigation, the company has agreed to pay £1.6m in a settlement with the regulator.

The investigation started as a result of information passed to the Commission regarding a customer who had been convicted of a £2 million fraud and had been spending stolen money through several gambling operators.

This convicted fraudster had spent £629,420 of stolen money with Platinum Gaming and the investigation discovered that the customer’s deposits were ‘so high and losses so significant’ that Platinum Gaming should have considered refusing or barring service to the customer. Instead the operator continued to allow the customer to gamble.

Investigations also revealed the operator breached anti-money laundering regulations, including a failure to make adequate enquiries about the source of the funds the customer used to gamble.

Richard Watson, Gambling Commission Executive Director, said: “There were weaknesses in Platinum Gaming’s systems and as a consequence, more than half a million pounds of stolen money flowed through the business. This is not acceptable and I would urge all operators to carefully read this case and learn lessons so they don’t make the same mistakes.

“This is yet another example of us taking firm action against online operators who fail to protect consumers or implement effective safeguards against money laundering. We must see the industry stepping up and providing consumers in Great Britain with the safest and fairest gambling market in the world. Where we continue to see failings, we will continue to take action.”

The Commission said that the management of this customer in relation to social responsibility and anti-money laundering ‘raised significant concerns’ regarding the effectiveness of Platinum Gaming’s policies and procedures that were in place at that time, and its management of risks to the licensing objectives.

However the regulator said the firm was not subject to a review of its licence because this appeared to be an isolated incident. The Commission found that Platinum Gaming had ‘moved forward since the time of this incident, with clear improvements in areas where these failings were found to have occurred’.

PGL acknowledged its shortcomings at an early stage after initial engagement from the Commission and accepted that it failed to act in accordance with the Licence Conditions and Codes of Practice (LCCP), the Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing and Transfer of Funds (Information on the Payer) Regulations 2017 (the 2017 Regulations) and our guidance on money laundering and terrorist financing.

As part of a settlement with the Commission, Platinum Gaming returned £629,420 to the fraudster’s victims and will pay £990,200 in lieu of a financial penalty. This money will be spent accelerating delivery of the National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms.

In determining the appropriate outcome, the Commission considered that the operator was:

  • open and transparent in its dealings with the Commission
  • able to make timely disclosure of material facts to the Commission
  • able to demonstrate that they have insight into the apparent failings
  • able to suggest actions that would prevent the need for formal action by the Commission
  • prepared, where appropriate, to agree to the publication of a public statement by the Commission setting out the failings in order to deter future non-compliance by others and/or share learning that may be beneficial to the wider industry or other stakeholders including the public
  • prepared to divest itself of any gross gambling yield or costs savings which accrued as a result of the failings
  • prepared to contribute to the direct costs to the Commission of investigating the matter in respect of which the regulatory settlement is sought
  • prepared to volunteer a payment in lieu of the financial penalty the Commission might otherwise impose for breach of a licence condition in accordance with the Statement of Principles for Determining Financial Penalties.