UKGC Fine Smarkets £630,000

UKGC Fine Smarkets £630,000

This year has seen the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) issue a series of fines against licence holders. The latest in an ever-growing list is Smarkets.

They have been given a fine of £630,000 for anti-money laundering and social responsibility failures. A UKGC investigation into the online sportsbook found that Smarkets allowed customers to place bets despite them not providing sufficient proof as to the exact source of their funds.

Another failure uncovered was that customers who were particularly in danger of being harmed by their gambling were not identified.

One Smarkets customer deposited a sum of £395,000 over a period of four months. At no point did the online sportsbook ask for evidence of where the funds were coming from. Another of their customers was found to be transferring large sums between bank accounts and user accounts. Again, Smarkets did not make any checks regarding this behaviour.

As well as the £630,000 fine, Smarkets have been issued with a formal warning. There will now be an audit that will have the aim of ensuring that the correct social responsibility protocols and anti-money laundering procedures are now in place and being followed.

Sarah Gardner is the Deputy CEO of the UKGC and commented on the action that has been announced. The Deputy CEO spoke of how compliance checks had identified the problems at Smarkets. She emphasised that the fine “once again highlights how we will take action against gambling operators who fail their customers.”

The failings found on the site put their customers “at risk of gambling harm.” She added that “It was obvious that poor systems and processes were in place which contributed to these breaches driven by the company’s failure to effectively implement its policies and controls.”

The fine is the latest in a series of ones that the UKGC have imposed this year. Earlier this month, LeoVeagas were given a £1.32 million fine for similar offences as Smarkets. 888 were fined £9.2 million and Bet-at-Home had their licence suspended. Soon after that suspension, they surrendered their licence.

We may be waiting and waiting for the UK Government White Paper on gambling reform but it is clear the UK gambling industry faces an unsettling time. The issue of affordability checks is thought to be in the Whte Paper that is likely to be released sometime in September once a new Prime Minister is in place.

While that is yet to happen, the UKGC will continue to have the aim of ensuring those they have licensed will act in a way that protects their customers.