UPDATE 11:40am - Comment from MrQ added
The operator of online bingo site MrQ will pay a £690,947 settlement to the UK Gambling Commission for a series of anti-money laundering and social responsibility failings.
The Gambling Commission announced today (Sept 20) that UK-headquartered Lindar Media Limited had agreed to pay a regulatory settlement, after investigators found a number of failings during a 2022 review.
Customers were allowed to deposit and lose as much as £10,000 in a short period of time after opening an account, without triggering anti-money laundering and safer gambling checks.
The commission said that Lindar’s processes were not set up to monitor its customers gambling fast enough, meaning interventions sometimes did not happen until after serious losses had been racked up.
In particular, “disproportionate customer spend in relation to a customer’s personal circumstances was not considered for some customers until they had deposited and lost significant amounts of money”.
Lindar also did not have adequate anti-money laundering policies or checks, the commission said, noting that all customers were automatically assigned a low risk profile upon creating an account.
The company also over-relied on spending triggers to conduct anti-money laundering assessments and did not update its policies frequently enough, the regulator said.
The operator was also punished for failing to notify the commission that its head of regulatory compliance had left the business and for not obtaining permission for their replacement to take on another senior role at the company.
Heads of compliance are not allowed to hold other management posts without the regulator’s explicit permission.
Lindar also broke advertising rules, the commission said, by displaying images of games with cartoon-style characters on websites easily accessible to those aged under-18.
Adverts for MrQ were posted to social media site Reddit, including one showing three images of the Marvel superhero character Spiderman, the regulator said.
Lindar Media also failed to make any kind of payment to an approved safer gambling research, treatment or prevention provider in 2021, the commission said.
Operators are currently required to make a donation to an approved organisation, with many choosing to send 0.1 percent of their gross gambling revenue to charity GambleAware.
As part of the UK’s ongoing white paper reforms, the government intends to replace this system with a statutory levy for combating problem gambling.
The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) is set to open a consultation on its levy proposals later this year, and although there has so far been no figure suggested for what percentage of revenue gambling companies would have to pay, the number is expected to be much higher than the currently suggested 0.1 percent.
In a press release entitled "You Win Some, You Lose Some", Lindar said the failings had taken place during a period of exponential growth and before it had properly established its core leadership team.
The company's CEO, Savvas Fellas said: "My focus since 2022 has been centred around maturing the day-to-day operations through the development of the senior leadership team. We’ve implemented scalable processes that provide consistency as we grow and built technology-driven models that underpin compliance and safer gambling promises to our players."
The operator said it shared the Gambling Commission's "commitment to improve compliance standards across the industry".
Lindar was co-operative and has taken remedial action to address the problems identified by the commission, which was taken into account in calculating its settlement amount, the regulator said.
The commission noted that the settlement was larger, because the case covered areas that were dealt with in earlier enforcement cases and the regulator expects licence-holders to learn from others’ mistakes.