UKGC Slap Betway with an £11.6m/ €12.7m Fine Over VIP Perks

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Only last week we brought you the news that Mr Green was handed a hefty £3m fine by the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) for regulatory failures and here we are again, with news of yet another operator being penalised.

Online gambling business Betway has been ordered to pay £11.6m/€12.7m in fines for a series of social responsibility and money laundering failings, all of which were linked to dealings with a total of seven of their high rolling customers.

Source of funds (SOF) checks were not carried out on a ‘VIP’ customer who deposited more than £8m/€8.8m and lost over £4m/€4.4m during a 4-year period. In another instance, Betway failed to effectively carry out social responsibility interactions with a customer who deposited and lost £187K/€205K in just two days!

The investigation carried out by the UKGC found that due to a lack of regulatory requirements, the operator allowed £5.8m/€6.3m to flow through the business which has been found, or could reasonably be suspected to be proceeds of crime and now it’s understood that the majority of this money will be returned to the victims of the crime.

Guidelines Must be Followed!

Richard Watson, Executive Director at the Gambling Commission, said: “The actions of Betway suggest there was little regard for the welfare of its VIP customers or the impact on those around them. As part of our ongoing programme of work to make gambling safer we are pushing the industry to make rapid progress on the areas that we consider will have the most significant impact to protect consumers.

The treatment and handling of high value customers is a significant piece of that work and operators are in no doubt about the need to tackle the issue at speed. We have set tight deadlines for when we expect to see progress and if we do not see the right results then we will have no choice but to take further action. This case highlights again why progress needs to be made.”

Adam Bradford, director of the Safer Online Gambling Group, said: “This is clearly a case where Betway’s licence should be suspended pending further investigation. It is completely unacceptable that such systemic failures are continuing to happen.

These small fines are a drop in the ocean set against the backdrop of a multibillion-pound industry which is exploiting those who really cannot afford to gamble as chronically as this. Questions need to be asked right at the top of Betway, and to see the company continue to trade today is a bitter insult to gambling addicts and their families.”

And Adam is not the only one to criticise the fine. Labour MP Carolyn Harris had this to say on the recent ruling:

“Just how exploitative has a gambling company got to be before the Gambling Commission suspends their licence? Betway’s fine for calculated and deliberate manipulation of VIP customers is paltry in comparison with the damage they will have caused to those caught in the web of VIP inducements. The industry is morally bankrupt, the Gambling Commission is complicit, and both should be concerned that their ability to operate in this way is fast coming to an end.”