Gambling Commission fines Smarkets for AML breaches

Smarkets will undergo an audit following the Gambling Commission
Smarkets will undergo an audit following the Gambling Commission

The British regulator found that the online operator had failed to check sources of funds adequately.

UK.- The Gambling Commission has issued a formal warning and £630,000 penalty to online betting operator Smarkets for a series of AML failings. The regulator said the operator had failed to conduct adequate checks on players’ sources of funds and had failed to identify or interact with at-risk customers. 

The operator, which is based in Malta and runs the SBK sportsbook, found that a customer had been able to deposit £395,000 over four months without appropriate checks on their source of funds. Another customer was able to transfer “significant levels of funds” between accounts without the matter being investigated.

Smarkets will now be audited to check the implementation of its anti-money laundering and social responsibility policies and procedures.

Gambling Commission deputy CEO Sarah Gardner said: “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.”

Smarkets founder and CEO Jason Trost said the operator fully accepted the findings and would work with the gambling commission to improve procedures.

He 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.”

Earlier this month, the Gambling Commission issued LeoVegas with a warning and a £1.2m penalty for social responsibility and anti-money laundering failings. The regulator found that the Swedish operator had “not sufficiently taken into account the Commission’s 2019 guidance on customer interaction” and had not enforced its policy of interacting with customers who displayed signs of gambling harm. 

Meanwhile, the UK data regulator, the Information Commissioner’s Office, has reported that it is investigating a complaint against the use of targeted ads by Sky Bet. The complaint claims that the operator uses data to create profiles enabling it to target gambling addicts.

The complaint was brought by the campaign group Clean Up Gambling. It says that Flutter’s Sky Bet uses profiling to target players with an addiction. A report that it commissioned in February alleges that the operator and its partners created detailed behaviour profiles and shared thousands of data points with dozens of third parties in order to target gambling addicts. It said it believes other operators used similar tactics.

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