Posted on: December 14, 2022, 11:32h.
Last updated on: December 14, 2022, 11:59h.
In September of last year, the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) announced a huge fine on gambling operator Daub Alderney (now part of The Rank Group). The company didn’t take the news too well and appealed, but hasn’t found any sympathy in court.
The fine of £5.85 million (US7.26 million) followed a lengthy investigation by the regulator. It reportedly revealed a number of social responsibility shortcomings and failures in the fight against money laundering.
It didn’t help that Daub Alderney had already received a £7-million (US$7.45 million) fine for similar failings three years earlier. The operator sought relief from the UK’s First-Tier Tribunal, which has now rejected its appeal.
Daub Alderney operates sites like aspers.com, kittybingo.com, luckypantsbingo.com, luckyvip.com, magicvegas.com, regalwins.com, and spinandwin.com. The shortcomings in the field of social responsibility included negligence. This related to the policies and procedures for interacting with players when there was concern that a customer’s activity might indicate problem gambling.
For example, one player at one of the online casinos lost £43,410 (US$46,231) in four months despite showing indicators of experiencing a gambling problem. The player used four different payment cards in one day and reversed £133,873 (US$142,574) in requested withdrawals.
“I find that there were serious breaches which were similar to the breaches for which a substantial financial penalty was imposed in 2018 and there are no new facts which persuade me that the decision was wrong,” said Judge Jacqueline Ruth Findlay. “I find that the (Commission Regulatory) Panel did not err in law and complied with its statutory obligations.”
The company appealed to the court, arguing that the fine was “excessive, unfair, and disproportionate.” Judge Jacqueline Ruth Findlay didn’t see it that way, according to an update on the case by the UKGC.
Instead, Findlay agreed with the regulator’s conclusion. She said the fine was a “fair and reasonable regulatory response,” although it would have been a Christmas miracle if the court had gone against the UKGC.
Rank Group acquired Daub Alderney in October 2019 and, perhaps, thought that gave it a clean slate. However, the UKGC’s relentless approach to gaming regulations means that there is no expungement.
Banner Year for UKGC
This has been a good year for the UKGC’s bank account. In just the first half of the year, it levied fines of more than £20 million (US$24.8 million) to various operators, according to data Business Cloud compiled.
Following that was an increase in fines in the second half of the year. In August, Entain received a bill for US21 million. That was shortly after LeoVegas received a fine of £1.32 million (US$1.6 million) and Smarkets had to pay £630,000 (US$769,923).
In September, Betfred received a fine of US$3 million. Then, the following month, NSUS, the parent company of GGPoker, had to pay US$738,763 for allegedly violating the UKGC’s rules. In between were a series of other fines the UKGC handed out to other operators.
In most instances, the UKGC accused companies of not adhering to anti-money laundering and social responsibility policies. It can now report having collected well more than $40 million throughout the year. This is in addition to the millions of dollars that operators give through so-called voluntary contributions to responsible gaming initiatives.