UK Casino Docked £450,000 For AML, Responsibility Failures

October 14, 2021
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The UK Gambling Commission has fined a Leeds casino £450,000 ($615,000) after a probe revealed social responsibility and anti-money laundering (AML) failures.

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The UK Gambling Commission has fined a Leeds casino £450,000 ($615,000) after a probe revealed social responsibility and anti-money laundering (AML) failures.

VGC Leeds Limited, trading as Victoria Gate Casino (VGC), will pay the money as part of a regulatory settlement with the UK Gambling Commission.

The commission investigated VGC's handling of ten customers following concerns identified during a compliance assessment in July 2019.

The investigation identified failings in the way VGC identified and managed customers who were at higher risk of money laundering and gambling-related harm.

The commission said in a statement that the failings stemmed from VGC failing to effectively implement its AML and safer gambling policies and procedures.

The commission said: "Our investigation identified weaknesses in VGC's safer gambling controls and found it had failed to effectively implement its policies and procedures for customer interaction.

"Furthermore, VGC failed to make use of all relevant sources of information to ensure effective decision making and to guide effective customer interactions.

"During the investigation we identified VGC had failed to undertake sufficient checks to verify the underlying source of the customer funds in some instances,” it said.

The statement highlighted two customers who illustrated the casino’s failure to check sources of funds used for gambling.

Customer A lost £275,000 over 22 months before the casino requested evidence for sources of funds. When the information was provided, the operator relied on a tax account that it considered to support income of £217,391 — a figure that did not support the customer's losses.

The casino also relied on the customer being the main shareholder for a dormant company, and the fact that the customer's firm had undertaken construction work at its premises as evidence of his wealth. The casino also failed to record interactions with the gambler as required.

Customer B incurred total losses of £93,294 over 16 months, but the casino only recorded numerous "no concern" interactions without explanation.

When the casino requested the customer provide proof of source of funds, the customer did not submit copies of bank statements until seven weeks later, but was permitted to continue gambling.

Although Customer B’s bank statements showed a substantial balance, the origin of the funds was not verified. Record-keeping also did not make it clear whether the customer withdrew money when he won at the casino.

When asked eight months later to submit documentation, the customer failed to do so. The commission said it was not clear from the customer profile if, or when, the documents were submitted.

VGC cooperated with the commission's investigation enquiries and accepted that the implementation of its policies and procedures for AML and safer gambling were ineffective between January 2017 and July 2019.

VGC will pay £241,000 for the financial gain accrued as a result of the accepted failings and £209,000 in lieu of a financial penalty. It will also pay commission costs of £21,578.17.

VGC committed to an ongoing programme of improvements to its policies, procedures and controls. The measures include carrying out a full review of the customer profiling process and a detailed analysis of its AML policies and procedures. It will also implement a new version of its Social Responsibility Policy.

Gambling Commission executive director Helen Venn said: "These failings were identified as part of our ongoing drive to raise standards across the whole gambling industry.

"All operators should be very aware that we will not hesitate to take action against those who fail to follow rules that are in place to make gambling safer and prevent it being a source of crime.

"Consumer protection should be an operator's main priority and we would advise every gambling business to read today's public statement so they do not make the same mistakes as VGC,” she said.

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