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Compliance Updates

UKGC Imposes £6.1M Fine on Online Operator In Touch Games

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The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has imposed a fine of £6.1 million on In Touch Games (ITG) for social responsibility and anti-money laundering failures.

Social responsibility failures included:

  • Not interacting with a customer until seven weeks after they had been flagged for interaction for erratic play patterns and extended periods of play.
  • Accepting a customer’s word that they earned £6000 a month without verifying this information after the customer account was flagged due to customer spend and gambling during unsociable hours.

Anti-money laundering failures included:

  • Not adequately taking account of the risk of a customer being a beneficiary of a life insurance policy; having links to high-risk jurisdictions; or being a politically exposed person (PEP), family member of a PEP or known close associates of a PEP, within its money laundering and terrorist financing risk assessment.
  • Not having policies, procedures and controls in place to address the risk factors mentioned above.
  • Not sufficiently considering the Commission’s money laundering and terrorist financing risk assessment or the Commission’s guidance.
  • Not ensuring its policies, procedures and controls were implemented effectively, for example not following its own policy to request source of funds information from customers who had deposited and lost £10,000 in a 12-month period.

This is the third time ITG have faced regulatory action – in 2019 it paid a £2.2m settlement for regulatory failures and in 2021 it received a £3.4m fine and warning for further failures.

Kay Roberts, Executive Director of Operations at UKGC, said: “Considering this operator’s history of failings we expected to see significant improvement when we carried out our planned compliance assessment. Disappointingly, although many improvements had been made, there was still more to do.

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“This £6.1m fine shows that we will take escalating enforcement action where failures are repeated and all licensees should be acutely aware of this.”

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California Gambling Control Commission Announces Comprehensive Agenda for Upcoming Meeting

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The California Gambling Control Commission (CGCC) has officially released the notice and agenda for its forthcoming commission meeting, set to take place on Thursday, March 7, 2024. In a move to accommodate participants from various locations and enhance accessibility, the CGCC has announced that the meeting will be held both in person and via tele/video conference.

The primary location for the in-person meeting will be at the CGCC’s headquarters in Sacramento, located at 2399 Gateway Oaks Drive, Hearing Room 100 on the first floor. Additionally, satellite locations have been established to cater to attendees in Northern and Southern California, including the Judicial Council of California’s Milton Marks Conference Center in San Francisco and the Carolyn Owens Community Center in Chino, respectively.

For those unable to attend in person, the commission is providing a Zoom link (https://zoom.us/j/2857578614) and a toll-free call-in option (1-888-475-4499, Meeting ID: 285 757 8614), ensuring widespread participation. The CGCC emphasizes that public participation is strongly encouraged, recommending virtual attendance through Zoom for convenience, although in-person attendance is welcomed, particularly at the Sacramento primary location.

The agenda for the meeting is packed with critical discussions and deliberations, starting promptly at 10:00 a.m. Key items include the approval of meeting minutes, consideration of initial and temporary licenses for third-party proposition player services employees, and key employee findings of suitability in line with tribal-state gaming compacts. The meeting will also address renewal applications for key employee licenses and commission work permits among other consent calendar items.

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This comprehensive meeting underscores the CGCC’s dedication to transparency and public involvement in its regulatory duties. It offers an opportunity for professionals in the gambling sector, stakeholders, and the general public to engage directly with the commission’s activities and decisions affecting the gambling landscape in California.

For more details on the agenda and how to participate in the meeting, please visit the CGCC’s official website at www.cgcc.ca.gov.

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Compliance Updates

Breaking News: New £2 maximum stake for under 25s playing online slots in the UK

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  • Stake limits for online slot games introduced for the first time in September in landmark moment for regulation of online gambling
  • Maximum £2 stake for 18 to 24-year-olds for online slot games to be introduced
  • £5 limit for adults aged 25 and over brings stakes in-line with casinos

Easily accessible online slot games are one of the most addictive forms of gambling, and can be associated with large losses, long sessions, and binge play. Unlike land-based gaming machines, such as in casinos, they have no statutory stake limits.

To counter the increased risk of significant harm and life-changing losses from online slot games, the Government will introduce a £5 stake limit for adults aged 25 and over.

Responding to evidence, a lower level stake limit for young adults aged 18-24 years old will be set at £2 per spin. This age group has the highest average problem gambling score of any group, as well as lower disposable income, ongoing neurological development impacting risk perception and common life stage factors like managing money for the first time. The evidence also points to a stronger link between gambling related harm and suicide among young adults.

The decision follows a 10-week consultation period in which the majority of respondents agreed with the gambling white paper proposal to introduce statutory limits for online slot games to help reduce the risk of gambling harm. Consultation responses included views from industry, academics, treatment providers and individuals.

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Gambling Minister Stuart Andrew said: “Although millions of people gamble safely every single day, the evidence shows that there is a significantly higher problem gambling rate for online slot games.

We also know that young adults can be more vulnerable when it comes to gambling related harms, which is why we committed to addressing both of these issues in our white paper.

The growing popularity of online gambling is clear to see, so this announcement will level the playing field with the land-based sector and is the next step in a host of measures being introduced this year that will protect people from gambling harms.”

Evidence from the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities shows that young adults can be particularly vulnerable to gambling related harm, with under 25s having the highest average problem gambling score of any age group.

NHS survey figures also show that there is a problem gambling rate of 8.7 per cent for online gambling on slots, casino or bingo games, one of the highest rates across gambling activities.

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CEO of GambleAware Zoë Osmond said: “We welcome the Government’s announcement to introduce lower online stake limits for under 25s as an important mechanism to protect young people. Our research shows a concerning trend with this age group experiencing an increase in harm arising from gambling and online slots are very high-risk products.

As we continue our work to tackle this growing public health issue, we will collaborate with the Government and others across the gambling harms sector to ensure there are no missed opportunities when it comes to the introduction of robust preventative measures, including new regulations such as these.”

The limits will come into force in September this year, following secondary legislation. There will be a six week transition period for operators to become compliant with the general £5 stake limit rules, followed by a further six weeks for the development of any necessary technical solutions to ensure operators are fully compliant with the lower stake limit of £2 for young adults aged 18-24.

Although most people gamble without issue, the restrictions introduced today are just some of the proposals set out in the Government’s white paper to modernise the gambling sector and make it fit for the digital age.

This includes the introduction of a statutory levy for research, prevention and treatment, as well as financial risk checks designed to prevent catastrophic, life-changing losses. The Gambling Commission and the Government continue to listen to concerns from campaigners, the wider public, and both the gambling and horse racing industries as part of the consultation process on these checks. The Gambling Commission continues to refine its approach on the design to achieve the right balance between protections and freedoms.

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As well as introducing measures to protect people from gambling related harm, the white paper package contains proposals that will support the land-based gambling industry to thrive. The industry supports thousands of jobs across the country and the Government has been clear it does not want to harm its success.

Responses to the wider white paper measures will be published soon.

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Compliance Updates

UK trade association Bacta meet with Labour Party candidates ahead of General Election

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Bacta’s preparations for the next UK General Election continue at a pace with George McGregor Executive Director – Government Relations, Regulatory Affairs and Communications, recently attending a meeting with North West England Labour Party candidates including Patrick Hurley (Southport), Michelle Scrogham (Barrow & Furness), and Chris Webb (Blackpool South).

 The meeting which was part of a wider Tourism Alliance programme covered a broad range of tourism related issues including support for the seaside sector, the contribution made by the amusements industry to seaside economies and the need to increase stake and prize levels on gaming machines.

Reflecting on the initiative George McGregor said: “We know there will be a General Election this year and it is a really opportune time to engage with prospective parliamentary candidates who are in campaigning mode.

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“The Labour candidates that I met with are all likely to be elected MPs according to current opinion polls. The meeting was a great opportunity to forge links ahead of the General Election, outline what our industry contributes to economies throughout the country and explain the unique set of challenges that it faces not least its inability to increase prices due to stake and prize regulations.

Bacta President John Bollom added: “The trade association has been preparing for a General Election for some time and the recent meeting with prospective Labour MPs follows the EAG attendance of Labour Peer Lord McNicol of West Kilbride who became the first politician to open an edition of EAG/ATEI since Tim Sainsbury MP in 1994.

“Prior to that November’s Bacta Convention featured the Minister for Gambling The Rt Hon Stuart Andrew MP who made a key note speech as well as Phillip Davies the Conservative MP for Shipley.”

He continued: “Political engagement is a key part of the comprehensive package of services we provide Bacta members and I believe that thanks to the endeavours of the trade association as well as those of member organisations who have opened their doors to their constituency MPs that the industry’s political stock has rarely been higher.”

 

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