British Gambling Commission blasts IMME for targetting pensioners

IMME has surrendered its British licence.
IMME has surrendered its British licence.

The Gambling Commission has concluded its review of CSR and AML breaches at International Multi-Media Entertainments Limited, which has already surrendered its British licence.

UK.- The Gambling Commission has concluded its enforcement action against International Multi-Media Entertainments Limited (IMME), criticising the operator for targeting elderly people.

The regulator suspended IMME’s licence after it began a review of the operator in January 2020 due to social responsibility and money laundering failings.

IMME offered betting on international lottery results under a real event betting licence as well as a lottery syndicate business, which did not require a licence. It would obtain customers by phone calls and through its website. It has surrendered its licence.

The Gambling Commission said customers had complained of being phoned repeatedly by IMME sales agents, with one woman in her 90s complaining of being called several times a week. Another complained of being called five or six times every 30-40 minutes until answering the phone.

The regulator found that 75 per cent of IMME’s customers were over 60 years old and 20 per cent were aged over 80. It said the company was “disproportionately focused on older people” and “had not considered the potential vulnerabilities of their customer base”.

As for affordability checks, the regulator found the operator had allowed a retired postman to bet £20,345 in five months without requesting further information to account for his spending.

IMME failed to provide evidence of adequate safer gambling interactions, including in the case of a 78-year-old customer who spent £63,951 in just over three months and a 74 year old who deposited £9,379 in eight days.

A customer who was nearly 100 years old wagered £23,839 in just five months, doubling his average deposits but was not asked to prove a source of funds. Customers also made complaints to police and complained of IMME staff using false names.

The Gambling Commission’s executive director Helen Venn said: “We will not tolerate gambling businesses behaving in the way IMME did. Gambling operators in Britain must follow our social responsibility and anti-money laundering rules, and a failure to do this will lead to us taking tough action.

“We suspended IMME’s licence following initial concerns and – having delved even deeper into the business’s activities – discovered failures that would have inevitably led to complete licence revocation had the operator not surrendered it. There is no room in Britain’s gambling industry for operators who fail in the way IMME have.”

The news comes after the Royal College of Psychiatrists warned of an increase in pensioners gambling online in the UK since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

It said that 624,377 more over 65s were gambling online at least once a month, with the proportion of pensioners gambling online rising from 8.7 per cent in the 12 months ending September 2019 to 13.5 per cent in 2021.

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