Mr Green Slapped with a £3m Fine by the UKGC Over Regulatory Failures

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Over the last two years, a total of nine gambling businesses have been slapped with more than £20m in penalty packages, as part of the UK Gambling Commission’s (UKGC) targeted investigation into online casinos. The most recent is William Hill owned Mr Green. A hefty £3m fine was handed to the online casino operator for what they called “systematic failings”.

As part of their penalty package, Mr Green will pay that £3m to the National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms for failing to adhere to effective procedures aimed at preventing harm and money-laundering. As a result of these failures, Mr Green:

  • Did not carry out social responsibility interaction with a customer who won £50,000, gambled it away and deposited thousands more pounds
  • Took ten-year-old evidence of a £176,000 claims pay out as satisfactory evidence of source of funds (SOF) for a customer who deposited over £1m
  • Accepted a photograph of a laptop screen showing currency in dollars on an alleged crypto trading account as adequate SOF.

Richard Watson, Gambling Commission Executive Director, said: “Our investigation uncovered systemic failings in respect of both Mr Green’s social responsibility and AML controls which affected a significant number of customers across its online casinos. Consumers in Britain have the right to know that there are checks and balances in place which will help keep them safe and ensure gambling is crime-free – and we will continue to crack down on operators who fail in this area.” 

Under the Microscope

Since investigations began, six operators have surrendered their gambling licences which means they can no longer transact with consumers in Britain. During the investigations into the nine most serious operating licence cases, the UKGC examined the actions of 22 individual Personal Management Licence holders. And, of these, six surrendered their licence, six received a formal warning, one received an advice to conduct, seven are still ongoing and no further action was taken against two.

Interestingly, a review of the top 120 big spenders at Mr Green were looked into and checks revealed that 113 failed to pass their anti-money laundering checks and as a result were closed down. Mr Green will need to carry out further anti-money laundering (AML) checks on another 120 top playing customers, applying improved AML process to its existing customer base. Once this is complete, it will have assessed al of its top 250 customers.

After all this, William Hill is adamant that the three violations in question (customer A with ten-year evidence of just a £176K pay-out then went on to spend £1m and customer B who supplied a screenshot from a business account showing it to be £12K overdrawn) were from customers before the acquisition.