It was only days ago that the UK Gambling Commission enforced fines on two other businesses. Now, it has taken regulatory action on another to the tune of £6.1 million. In Touch games is the operator suffering the penalty for failings in two areas. In what has now become a common issue, In Touch failed in social responsibility. It also suffered problems in anti-money laundering protocol. In comparison to the other two recent fines, this one is at the much higher end of the scale.
In Touch operates 11 websites in the United Kingdom via its official licence. They include platforms like bonusboss.co.uk, drslot.co.uk and slotfactory.com. The Commission conducted a compliance assessment of the operator in March of 2022. The findings of that investigation led to various failures coming to light. Yet the issue becomes worse considering it is the third time In Touch has faced regulatory action. It was also penalised in 2019 and 2021 for similar issues.
It was on January 17 that Vivaro Limited faced its own regulatory action amounting to £337,631. The operator reached a settlement with the Commission for this fine after its own failings. The following day, a penalty on the TonyBet brand was also brought to light. It received a fine of almost £500,000 for failing to follow licence terms. This, again, revolved around social responsibility and anti-money laundering.
The Issues Affecting In Touch Games
It seems like the UKGC is reeling out an innumerable selection of fines in recent times. These have affected big-name companies, with In Touch being the latest victim. The social responsibility failures noted by the Commission include:
- Having no interaction with a customer flagged for erratic play patterns until seven weeks later.
- Only taking a customer’s word for it that they earned enough to support their gambling. The customer informed the team that they made £6,000 per month. No verification of this took place, even after flagging the customer’s account. This allowed them to spend vast amounts and gamble at unsociable hours with ease.
Anti-money laundering has also been a large focus of recent Commission penalties. In the case of In Touch Games, it failed in the following areas:
- One customer was the beneficiary of a life insurance policy. In Touch did not take into account the risk associated with this. There were potential links to high-risk jurisdictions. Plus, they may have been a politically exposed person (PEP) or a family member of a PEP.
- No policies or procedures were in place to address the risk factors noted above.
- Insufficient consideration of the UKGC money laundering and terrorist financing risk assessment.
- In Touch did not ensure effective implementation of policies and procedures. In one case, it did not follow its own policy to request source of funds from certain customers. These players had deposited and lost £10,000+ within a 12-month period.
As a result of the failures, the Commission followed its own enforcement policies. This has seen the regulatory body take the decision to enact the following protocol:
- Impose a financial penalty of £6,133,310 under section 121(1) of the Gambling Act 2005.
The Gambling Commission did note that In Touch had been co-operative with its report. It also acknowledged the failings identified during the assessment and took immediate action.
Previous Breaches Experienced by In Touch Games
The first penalty that the operator experienced came in 2019. This came about as part of a package of penalties with three other brands, amounting to £4.5 million. In Touch paid the largest amount towards this fine, handing out £2.2 million. In all instances, the four businesses failed to have effective safeguards in place. That related to anti-money laundering and keeping customer safe from harm.
It was in 2021 that the next fine arrived at the door of In Touch Games. This time it was on its own in receiving a penalty in three areas. They were social responsibility, money laundering and marketing failures. The Commission issued a formal warning to the operator alongside a £3.4 million fine. The company, which bases itself out of Birmingham, had several failures highlighted. Even fair and transparent terms and practice failures came to light. The Commission added an extra condition to its licence as well. This meant that In Touch had to have a firm of independent auditors check its operations. This was to make sure it was in full compliance with the licence conditions.
The latest £6.1 million fine is the highest In Touch has had to pay to the Commission. Speaking on the fine, Kay Roberts, Executive Director of Operations for the UKGC said:
“Considering this operator’s history of failings, we expected to see significant improvement when we carried out our planned compliance assessment. Disappointingly, although many improvements had been made, there was still more to do.”
She continued on by stating that the £6.1 million fine displays the serious nature of the breaches. Not only that, but it highlights how effective the Commission is at dealing with such. Roberts noted that “all licensees should be acutely aware of this.”
The Commission has been on quite the warpath as of late with issuing fines and warnings. In November of 2022, it issued a £237,600 fine to AG Communications Limited. This came about due to anti-money laundering failures. Earlier on that month, a gambling business ended up suspended by the Commission. LEBOM failed to integrate GamStop into its lebom.app gambling site and this was its punishment.
One month prior, gambling operator NSUS Limited received a £672,000 fine. It had also failed in the areas of social responsibility and anti-money laundering. Other penalties in 2022 for gambling companies operating in the UK include:
- September 28 – Petfre Ltd receives £2.9 million fine.
- September 21 – Betway Limited receives £400,000 fine.
- August 25 – Spreadex Limited receives £1.36 million fine.
- August 17 – Entain receives £17 million fine.
- August 11 – Smarkets receives £630,000 fine.
- August 3 – LeoVegas receives £1.32 million fine.
- July 7 – bet-at-home.com Internet Limited has licence suspended.
- May 17 – Goldchip Limited has licence suspended.
- May 17 – Jumpman Gaming Limited receives £500,000 fine.
- May 17 – Progress Play Limited receives £175,718 fine.
- March 22 – Camelot UK receives £3.15 million fine.
- March 9 – Sky Betting and Gaming receives £1.17 million fine.
- March 1 – 888 Group receives £9.4 million fine.
- February 24 – BetVictor receives £2 million fine.
- January 27 – Genesis Global Limited receives £3.8 million fine.
- January 20 – Rank Digital Gaming receives £700,557 fine.
- January 20 – Annexio Limited receives £612,000 regulatory settlement fine.