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InTouch Games Customer Failings Result in £3.4 Million Fine From UKGC

fineIn Touch Games, operator of popular slots and bingo sites such as mFortune, Dr Slot, Mr Spin, Pocket Win, Cashmo and Casino 2020, have received regulatory action from the United Kingdom Gambling Commission for anti-money laundering (AML) and social responsibility failings.  This has resulted in an official warning and a hefty fine of £3,400,000.

The UKGC has stopped short of suspending the license to operate in the UK although the company will now undergo extensive auditing at its own expense, using an independent auditor.  The audit will ensure the company are adhering to the codes of practice detailed in their licensing conditions.

This news may come as a shock to players who use sites such as mFortune given the high quality the company strives for, including in running its very popular proprietary bingo and slots games.  We look at the failings below and what they mean for the company.

Who Are In Touch Games?

intouch gamesIn Touch Games are seen as a very modern online gaming companies with leading mobile-first sites that have won tons of industry awards.  In fact, the company started out over 20 years ago in the UK selling gaming machines to independents and pubs.  They took the plunge into online gaming in the early 2010’s.

The unique angle that InTouch have is their proprietary bingo and casino games.  They by no means have the most games but those games are designed solely for their sites and that has made them popular with players.  In Touch brands boast some of the most loyal players in the industry.

In Touch have licenses for remote bingo and casino along with a gambling software license.

What Were The Social Failings?

man holding payment cardDespite running player-focused novel brands the company has still managed to fall foul of UKGC licensing conditions around social responsibility. They following failings have been flagged:

  • Insufficient use of existing policies and procedures for interacting with customers, in particular 7 customers who displayed problem gambling behaviour did not receive enough interaction.
  • Not following the license policy with respect to those 7 customers, ineffective decision making and use of available information.  The UKGC belives mandatory limits should have been placed on those accounts.
  • Suggesting in their own guidance that bonuses can be provided to a customer if identification is provided, with no additional checks.

Largely the failings in this area are specifically isolated to the seven users mentioned, although the point is they need to change how they interact with customers to prevent this happening again.

What Were The Money Laundering Failings?

money launderingPerhaps more seriously In Touch were found to have failings in their anti-money laundering procedures.  These are in place to prevent the industry being used for proceeds of crime.

The group were found to have ineffective risk assessments that failed to take into account the heightened risks from depositors using payment providers that also acts as an exchange for crypto-currencies.

In addition they were found to not be conducting enhanced due diligence to the required degree and failing to appropriately review information from source of funds checks.

What Were The Marketing Failings?

sms marketingFrom personal experience In Touch brands have always taken compliance and the display of significant terms in marketing very seriously.  Therefore, the failings highlighted with regards to SMS messages sent by the company are very surprising indeed.

The UKGC has found that the group sent out text messages to customers that did not stake minimum or maximum deposit amounts in the significant terms and failed to detail the time limits around the bonus offers in question.

This is a fairly schoolboy mistake for a company like this and is unlikely to happen again.

What Will Happen Now?

warning whistle yellow and red cardFrom the customer perspective not a lot will change.  InTouch have not received a suspension at this stage and so users can carry on playing as normal.  The UKGC has issued an official warning and stipulated the company needs to undertake an independent audit of their policies and procedures, at cost to themselves.

The main thing you may notice on the back of this is you may be subject to more checks on your sources of funds and they may interact more regularly with you.  Any offers they now send out via email or SMS are likely to be clearer with more complete terms.

The £3.4M fine is certainly large, although not as large as some in the past, such as Betway, who received an £11.6 Million fine this time last year for failing to protect customers.  The fine money itself will be distributed between various gambling charities and support bodies.

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