Britain’s Gambling Commission has ordered online casino operator and platform SkillOnNet to pay PS305,150 (EUR350,351/$378,299) over a series of anti-money laundering (AML) and social responsibility failings.
SkillOnNet will pay the money in lieu of financial penalties after reaching an agreement with the regulator. The money will go to socially-responsible causes.
SkillOnNet was found to have violated several License Conditions and Codes of Conduct during a Commission led regulatory review for the period January 2021 to December 2022.
SkillOnNet was found to have inadequate policies, procedures and controls for AML compliance, and also had weaknesses in its responsible gambling policies and procedures, controls, and practices.
Infractions included the licence condition 12.1.1 which requires operators to assess their risk of their business being used as a money laundering (ML), and terrorist financing (TF) operation.
The regulator stated that the assessment failed to appropriately take into account payments received by unknown or unrelated third parties of the client. The Commission noted that the assessment failed to take into consideration organised crime groups, mule accounts and information about the risks associated with ML and TF provided by the Commission.
The Commission also pointed out a violation of condition 12.1.1(2), which states operators must have policies, procedures, and controls in place to prevent ML or TF after completing an assessment.
Concerns raised included the lack of appropriate procedures to take into account a customer’s income or wealth in order to identify excessive spending and the reliance on player declarations as a way to mitigate any ML risk.
SkillOnNet failed to effectively profile its customers’ risk from a perspective of AML, according to the Commission. The Commission also relied upon verbal comments that were not supported by evidence and on monetary thresholds to determine disproportionate spending.
Another breach was found in relation to condition 12.1.1(3) of the licence, which requires that licence holders implement and review their measures.
SkillOnNet’s failures were that some customers could deposit and lose more than double the PS2,000 limit it had set up to mitigate the risk of unverified payment methods. The regulator said that licensees assumed customers were recycling their winnings, without any proof.
The last AML failure was related to condition 12.1.2 of the licence, which requires operators to comply with the Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing and Transfer of Funds Regulations of 2017.
SkillOnNet failed to establish policies, procedures and controls that were effective, according to the Commission, and did not identify or assess the risks associated with ML and TTF.
Social Responsibility Failures
SkillOnNet did not comply with paragraphs 1 & 2 of the Social Responsibility Code Provisions (SRCP). The licensees are required to engage with their customers in order to minimise the risk of harm from gambling.
One of the specific failings noted was that customers with signs of harm were not identified after a win. A technical problem allowed some players to gamble large bets quickly and deposit them without the safer gambling controls being activated.
A failure was also made to identify those customers who were at high risk, or those who were disproportionately affected. One player could deposit up to PS3,000 a month and still lose it, which is more than his monthly salary.
SkillOnNet also failed to recognize night play as an indicator of harm. One customer had a session lasting seven hours and admitted that he was at work during the evenings with his phone set to autoplay.
SkillOnNet failed to interact effectively with some customers, relying on automated pop-ups.
The Commission also noted that the interactions between customers and the gambling industry did not reduce the likelihood of harms to the customer.
A player who deposited PS16,000 over 41 days had a loss of PS3,225. The player received multiple automated safer gaming popups and emails.
The customer took part in several safe gambling chats and provided basic information when the agent asked questions. As a result, the customer was allowed to continue to gamble. The Commission stated that these interactions were minimal, and they took the customer at their word without any further investigation or attempts to find out more information.
SkillOnNet regulatory settlement details
SkillOnNet and the Commission reached a settlement to conclude the case. This included an initial payment of PS305.150, plus PS9,079 for investigation costs. The operator agreed to publish details of the case, perform an independent audit and implement improved AML and safer gaming policies.
SkillOnNet was acknowledged by the Commission as having taken action to correct the violations, acting in a timely fashion and cooperating with the investigation. The Commission also stated that SkillOnNet accepted all of the key failures.