Regulator warns betting firms’ licences could be revoked if they fail to stop criminal activity and problem gambling
Five online casino companies could lose their licence to operate, after industry regulator the Gambling Commission warned they were not doing enough to stop criminals using their websites to launder money.
The commission has written to 17 online casino companies, flagging up the “serious nature” of its findings on their controls against money laundering, terrorist financing and problem gambling.
The regulator said it was already considering a licence review for five of the firms as a result of its early findings, which could result in their permission to operate in the UK being revoked.
In its letter to firms in the sector, the commission said it had identified failings not just in money-laundering controls, but also in social responsibility provisions designed to protect problem gamblers.
These included companies hiring money laundering reporting officers with no formal qualifications who were “unable to provide suitable explanations as to what constitutes money laundering”.
The commission said: “There was a general lack of understanding of how criminal spend could affect the business.”
It also said firms were not submitting enough information about suspicious activity to law enforcement agencies such as the National Crime Agency.
Online casinos are also failing in their duty to intervene when customers were showing signs of problem gambling, the commission said.
The regulator said it had spotted customers showing signs of problem gambling, but that “this behaviour did not trigger a customer interaction” by the companies.
It told them to improve their measures to protect customers and prevent money laundering, warning it may review whether five of the 17 operators should have their licence withdrawn.