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Betred and Coral fined by the UK Gambling Commission 23/06/2016
• Betfred fined £800,000
• Coral fined £880,000
• Paddy Power also fined £280,000

Betfred has become the latest operator to be fined by the UK Gambling Commission since Sarah Harrison took over as chief executive last year.

The operator agreed to an £800,000 (€1m/$1.1m) settlement after accepting stolen cash from a customer, who was allegedly offered free drinks and day trips to encourage him to keep betting.

Betfred was found to have failed to meet its obligations on social responsibility and the prevention of money laundering, after taking thousands of pounds from Matthew Stevens, a convicted thief. The accountant pleaded guilty to two counts of theft earlier this year, after funnelling cash out of the business he worked for in order to fund his gambling habit.
The Gambling Commission said Betfred would pay more than £800,000 in “compensation and in contribution towards socially responsible causes” after a review of its licence. Under the terms of the latest settlement, Betfred will pay £443,000 to the victims of the criminal activities. A further £344,500 will be paid to socially responsible causes, agreed with the commission.

The case was referred to the Gambling Commission over claims made in court that staff offered Stevens free bets and days out to go gambling, despite him racking up huge losses between 2013 and 2015.

The UK regulator announced an £880,000 settlement with Coral in April, after the bookmaker took hundreds of thousands of pounds from a problem gambler who was using the proceeds of theft to feed his habit. Earlier this year, Paddy Power was forced to pay out £280,000 after the commission found that it had encouraged a problem gambler to keep betting until he lost five jobs and his home.

Gala Coral said it has instigated changes across its anti-money laundering (AML) and social responsibility (SR) policies after failures identified by the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) cost it almost £850,000 (€1.1m/$1.2m).

The UK gaming operator, which runs Coral, Grosvenor Casinos and the Gala Bingo website, has acted after it failed to deal adequately with a customer who fraudulently spent more than £800,000 with the company between 2012 and January 2015 and is now serving a three-year prison sentence.

After an investigation, the UKGC concluded that the identified issues highlighted by this customer indicated wider systemic faults with Gala Coral Group’s approach to AML and SR at the relevant time.

The UKGC found that Gala Coral failed to appropriately assess customer risk and obtain adequate information with regard to customers’ source of funds or source of wealth. It also did not utilise open source internet resources effectively or effectively use account information to identify potential problem gamblers.

The gaming operator has returned the customer’s gross gambling yield of £846,000 to the vulnerable adult that he stole from, and told that it has made a number of improvements to its procedures over the course of the last year.

“These improvements included new tools to enhance customer checks, increased headcount in our anti-money laundering team and improved training for retail and online customer-facing colleagues,” a Gala Coral spokesperson said. “We also intend to submit our AML and SR policies to a review by a third party.

“Gala Coral remains fully committed to working with the Commission and the broader industry to strengthen existing controls and to ensure that responsible gambling remains at the core of our business.”

The UKGC has warned operators to remember that under the Gambling Act 2005 their licence depends on taking appropriate steps to “keep crime out of gambling”.

Richard Watson, programme director at the UKGC, added: “We expect the industry will learn the lessons from this case, as it is their responsibility to keep crime out of gambling and protect vulnerable people from harm.
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