UKGC fines Buzz Group Ltd for several failures

Simona Boshkova | Published 16 Dec 2021, 9:39 a.m.

The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) continues with its assessment of gambling operators to ensure that they operate accordingly. During the process, the UKGC finds various failures for which the responsible operators receive a fine.

For example, Greentube Alderney has recently been fined £685,000 by the UKGC for social responsibility and money laundering failures. Also, BGO’s operating licence got suspended due to concerns about activities that have been carried out contrary to the Gambling Act.

In the meantime, the Commission published the annual Compliance and Enforcement Report that features findings of the regulator’s extensive casework against licence holders and detailing where the industry needs to raise standards.

Today, we bring you the newest announcements from the Gambling Commission. Namely, the operator fined Buzz Group Ltd for a series of failures.

An investigation found social responsibility and money laundering failures

Buzz Group Ltd, the company that operates buzzbingo.com, must pay a £780,000 fine after the investigation from UKGC found social responsibility and money laundering failures. Moreover, the company received a formal warning for the failures which occurred between October 2019 and December 2020.

Regarding the social responsibility failures, Buzz Group failed to identify at-risk players because financial triggers were set too high. One customer was able to deposit £22,400 in five days without the operator conducting a meaningful interaction within that period. 

Moreover, Buzz didn’t have sufficient systems to identify problem-gambling players. Two customers won large amounts of money gambling, yet the operator failed to consider the increased risk of gambling harm to those customers despite the customers displaying high levels of spending.

Other social responsibility failures include not carrying out effective customer interactions with customers who gambled aggressively over short periods of time. Finally, staff did not always sufficiently follow the requirement of the operator’s own customer interaction procedure to check the customer was comfortable with their gambling levels.

On the other hand, anti-money laundering failures include triggers prompting source of funds (SOF) checks being over-reliant on open source or anecdotal information. This includes staff relying heavily on assurances provided verbally by customers during interactions.

In another instance, Buzz Group failed to place reliance on a large customer win as the SOF for the customer’s future gambling spend without considering that it might not be recycled winnings and that it may be the proceeds of crime.

The UKGC further revealed that multiple alerts needed to be activated before a customer AML interaction took place. One customer was able to hit nine financial alerts before their account was suspended pending an AML interaction.

Helen Venn, Commission Executive Director, said: “As a regulator we expect all operators to effectively implement policies and procedures which make gambling safe and crime-free. Every single gambling business should be aware that we do check that these are in place and are being adhered to. If they are not, we will take action.”

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