LeoVegas hit with £1.32m fine for money laundering failings, taking total AML penalties against gambling operators to almost £25m in past 12 months

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The Gambling Commission has fined online gambling operator LeoVegas £1.32million for social responsibility and anti-money laundering failures.

The Gambling Commission’s investigation found that the financial triggers for anti-money laundering reviews set by LeoVegas were “too high and unrealistic to effectively manage money laundering and terrorist financing risks”; that it was relying too heavily on “inadequate information” regarding how much a customer should be allowed to gamble and had “inappropriate controls” which allowed customers to gamble significant sums without knowing anything about their financial situations.

Speaking about the action, Leanne Oxley, Gambling Commission Director of Enforcement and Intelligence, said: “We identified this through focused compliance activity and we will continue to take action against other operators if they do not learn the lessons our enforcement work is providing. This case is a further example of operators failing to protect customers and failing to be alive to money laundering risks within their business.”

But the LeoVegas fine is certainly not unusual, in fact, it marks the 12th substantial penalty levied against gambling firms in the last 12 months for money laundering failures; since September 2021, fines handed down to gambling operators total more than £24.8m*.

Some of the more significant actions were in January this year, when Genesis Global Limited was not only fined £3.8million, but also had its license suspended, and in March when the Gambling Commission handed down its largest fine to date. 888 UK Limited - which operates 78 websites including 888.com – was fined £9.8m following a ream of AML failures, including verbal assurances being accepted in place of proper checks and customers being allowed to deposit £40,000 before any Source of Funds (SOF) checks were carried out - one customer spent £65,835 in just 5 months without any SOF checks being carried out.

Martin Cheek, MD at anti money laundering experts SmartSearch said the LeoVegas fine – and the numerous others that have come before it – should act as a stark warning to gambling firms that the consequences of not having AML procedures in place are severe.

“The LeoVegas fine, and the £26million worth of other fines levied at gambling firms over the past year – is evidence that the Gambling Commission is taking its role as a regulator very seriously, and will not hesitate to come down hard on those not meeting their AML obligations.

“The gambling sector has been a top target for criminals for some time, and with the increased use of online gambling apps, and the restrictions on Russia pushing more illegal funds through the gambling sector, the risk is only going to increase. Therefore, it has never been more important for gambling operators to have the most stringent customer due diligence processes in place.

“Not only is failing to prevent money laundering a crime in itself, but dirty money funds serious crime, so failing to prevent it means you are an enabling of some of the most serious and egregious offences.”

The easiest way for gambling operators to ensure their AML compliance is up to scratch, so they can prevent money laundering and protect their businesses from penalties for noncompliance – is to use an electronic verification system. SmartSearch offers the highest match and pass rate on the market, enabling firms to identify, verify and screen customers at the click of a button. They can even be verified remotely using our facial recognition technology.

Visit https://www.smartsearch.com/sectors/gaming-and-gambling to find out more.

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