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Money-laundering fear over UK online casinos

January, 5th 2018

Five online casinos could lose their operators licence this year after the industry regulator warned they were not doing enough to stop criminals using their web sites to launder money.

The Gambling Commission has written to a total of seventeen online casinos, flagging up the 'serious nature' of it's recent findings on their controls against terrorist financing, money laundering and responsible gambling. It does not name any of the operators, but said it had written to them this past week to raise concerns and warn them to review current processes.

In their letter to firms in the sector, the Gambling Commission said it had identified failings not just in money-laundering controls, but also in social responsibility provisions designed to protect problem gamblers. These included companies hiring money laundering reporting officers with no formal qualifications who were "unable to provide suitable explanations as to what constitutes money laundering."

The Commission said: "There was a general lack of understanding of how criminal spend could affect the business." It also said casino operators were not submitting enough information about suspicious activity to law enforcement agencies such as the National Crime Agency.

Online casinos are also failing in their duty to intervene when punters were showing signs of problem gambling, the Commission said. The regulator said it had spotted customers showing signs of problem gambling, but that "this behaviour did not trigger a customer interaction" by operators. It told them to improve their measures to protect customers and prevent money laundering in future, warning it may review whether five of the seventeen operators should have their licence withdrawn in 2018.

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