The Swedish Gambling Authority (SGA) has imposed financial penalties on Kindred, ATG and PinBet for serious shortcomings in their anti-money laundering measures.
Kindred subsidiary Spooniker received a warning and a sanction fee of SEK10.9m (€926,394), while horseracing and betting operator ATG was ordered to pay SEK6m (€550,879) and PinBet was issued a penalty of SEK2m (€183,626).
In all three cases, the SGA analysed the operators’ AML/CFT processes and reviewed the transaction history of randomly selected, high-depositing customers.
The investigation into Kindred covered the period between January 2019 and February 2022.
When reviewing the customer history, the SGA found that in 10 cases, the operator had either failed in meeting enhanced due diligence requirements, had not taken sufficient measures to assess the AML and CFT risk, or had not acted quickly enough to close the players’ accounts.
In response to the penalty, Kindred highlighted that since 2021, it had implemented several improvements to further strengthen its AML processes.
The operator said it had expanded its AML team to manage increased requirements related to appropriately identifying and managing customer risk, while also improving its AML procedures.
As a result, the number of risk-assessed customers and suspicious transaction reports sent to the financial police had increased.
Kindred stressed it fully shared the SGA’s ambition to prevent money laundering and terrorist financing.
However, the operator said it would welcome “increased clarity from the SGA” and guidance on objective and effective AML risk parameters that should be considered when assessing a customer’s risk profile.
Kindred is considering a potential appeal of the warning and sanction fee.
In a separate investigation, the SGA analysed ATG, or AB Trav och Galopp, between 1 January and 31 March 2020 and between 1 January and 31 March 2021.
The authority reviewed 13 customers, and found in eight cases where ATG had failed to sufficiently ascertain the identity of its customers and their source of funds.
ATG said it did not share the SGA’s opinion fully. The company said that that even if there were some shortcomings, which were the “result of the human factor,” it believed it still had sufficient measures in place to manage AML and CFT risks.
Nonetheless, ATG stressed that in 2022, it had introduced various systems to better control its customers of different risk categories.
The company also adopted a system that automatically sends KYC questionnaires to its medium-risk customers and carries out further investigations based on the customers’ answers.
The SGA’s investigation into PinBet, meanwhile, covered the period between June 2020 and January 2022.
The SGA reviewed the transaction history of 12 customers and identified shortcomings in 10 cases.
PinBet said it believed the SGA was correct, but emphasised it had taken several measures to improve its work in countering the financing of money laundering and terrorism, including improving its systems, policies and procedures, as well as training its staff.
In addition, PinBet said it had restructured its legal, regulatory and compliance functions and departments to further strengthen its regulatory framework internally.
Unibet has joined the list of operators to have received financial penalties from the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) over marketing breaches.
The regulator has accused Kindred Group-owned Unibet of violating the province’s ban on promoting bonuses and other incentives in general advertisements, and has demanded that the brand pays a penalty fee of C$48,000, or €37,085.
Ontario’s iGaming legislation explicitly prohibits broad public advertising of bonuses and other inducements to gamble.
Contrary to the province’s Standards for Internet Gaming, Unibet allegedly posted or aired multiple broad gambling inducements that promoted “generous welcome offers” between 19 May and 22 May 2022.
AGCO CEO and registrar Tom Mungham commented: “We expect all registered operators to achieve and maintain the high standards of responsible gambling, player protection and game integrity.
“The AGCO will continue to monitor these gaming sites’ activities, and ensure they are meeting their obligations under Ontario’s Gaming Control Act and the Standards,” he added.
AGCO CEO and registrar Tom Mungham: “We expect all registered operators to achieve and maintain the high standards of responsible gambling, player protection and game integrity.”
Unibet has the right to appeal the penalty at Ontario’s Licence Appeal Tribunal, which is an adjudicative tribunal independent of the AGCO and part of Tribunals Ontario.
In May, BetMGM and PointsBet were the first two operators to fall foul of the province’s marketing regulation, which came into force on 4 April as Ontario’s newly regulated iGaming market went live.
In June, DrafKing was slapped with a financial penalty over similar marketing breaches.
Smarkets has been struck with a £630,000 fine after an investigation by the UK Gambling Commission discovered a series of anti-money laundering and social responsibility failures.
London-based Smarkets accepted the six-figure sum for the failings, which saw customers allowed to gamble without adequate source of funds checks and failing to identify and interact with customers who were at risk of experiencing harm.
The operator has also received a formal warning and will undergo an audit to ensure it is effectively implementing its AML and social responsibility policies, procedures and controls.
Smarkets CEO Jason Trost: “We have worked cooperatively with the Commission throughout the process and taken significant measures to implement their recommendations, investing substantially in our compliance function.”
Examples of the failings by Smarkets include one customer being allowed to deposit £395,000 in a four-month period, without appropriate source of funds checks being carried out by the SBK operator.
Another example saw an individual transfer significant levels of funds between accounts without scrutiny or source of funds checks occurring.
“We fully accept the UKGC’s findings following investigation of some of our former procedures,” Smarkets CEO and founder Jason Trost said.
“We have worked cooperatively with the Commission throughout the process and taken significant measures to implement their recommendations, investing substantially in our compliance function.
“We take our responsibility to have appropriate compliance policies in place extremely seriously. We will continue to work closely with the UKGC and other relevant stakeholders, and will take proactive steps in order to ensure further improvement to our procedures on an ongoing basis,” he added.
UKGC deputy CEO Sarah Gardner: “This case was identified through compliance checks and once again highlights how we will take action against gambling operators who fail their customers.”
Upon handing down the fine, the UKGC highlighted that Smarkets cooperated with the Commission throughout the investigation and that the compliance assessment also found no evidence of criminal spend.
Sarah Gardner, deputy CEO of the UKGC, commented: “This case was identified through compliance checks and once again highlights how we will take action against gambling operators who fail their customers.
“Our investigation into Smarkets unearthed a variety of failures where customers were put at risk of gambling harm.
“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,” she added.
The £630,000 fine is the latest in a string of enforcement cases led by the regulator against UK licensees this year.
Earlier this month, online operator LeoVegas was hit with a fine of £1.32m for similar social responsibility and AML failings.