The United Kingdom Gambling Commission, also known as the UKGCis responsible for regulating British gambling operators. On the March 23, 2023, the UKGC levied a massive £7.1 million ($8.68 million) penalty against 32Red and Platinum Gaming Limited.
32Red Limitedwhich is responsible for operating 32red.com, has been ordered to fork over £4,195,655 ($5,130,027) to the UKGC. Platinum Gaming, a company that runs unibet.co.uk, will have to pay £2,937,599 ($3,591,802) to the UKGC. Both of these brands are a part of the Kindred Group plc, and the penalties imposed reflect anti-money laundering failures and social responsibility concerns.
32Red and Unibet are Popular UK Gambling Operators
Unibetoriginally founded back in 1997, now focuses on providing a plethora of online gambling, including sports betting, casino gaming, and online poker. The Unibet brand mostly serves customers in the United Kingdom although the brand has launched projects in other areas of the world, like when Unibet debuted in the Pennsylvania regulated online gaming market back in 2019.
32Red was founded in 2002, and the brand primarily focuses on delivering casino gaming like blackjack, roulette, and slots. The site offers more than 500 casino games to customers throughout the United Kingdom.
It is important to note that both of these brands are now under the Kindred Group umbrella of brands. The Kindred Group plc operates nine gambling brands serving millions of customers across the world. Besides 32Red and Unibet, Kindred also operates Maria Casino, CasinoHuone, Otto Casino, Bingo.com, kolikkopelit, Vlad Casino, and Storspiller (Highroller Casino).
£7.1 Million is a Hefty Penalty
32Red Limited and Platinum Gaming Limited (Unibet) are both part of Kindred Group plc. The two brands are being fined a total of £7.1 million for social responsibility and anti-money laundering failures. The investigation uncovered the following specific social responsibility failures:
- 32Red allowed an individual to deposit £43,000 ($52,576) and lose £36,000 ($44,017) within seven days.
- 32Red failed to conduct sufficient customer interactions. Interactions were being carried out and logged, but they were often superficial and relied on customer assurances that they were indeed comfortable with their exposure and level of risk.
- Gambling session times at 32Red should have prompted earlier identification of customers at risk for experiencing gambling-related harm.
- Platinum Gaming did not identify or interact with customers who may have experienced harms associated with gambling.
In addition, the UKGC identified the following Anti-Money Laundering failures through it’s investigation:
- 32Red maintained financial triggers for AML reviews that were too high. Customers were allowed to gamble significant amounts in short periods of time without proper verification
- The measures described by the Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing and Transfer of Funds were not properly implemented by 32Red.
- 32Red customers subjected to Source of Funds or Source of Wealth requests were, in most cases, not restricted from gambling and depositing during the two-week time-frame allowed by the operator to reasonably respond to the request. This resulted in additional depositing and losses.
- 32 Red over-relied on confidence that funds coming through Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) regulated firms removed proceeds of crime risk.
- One specific 32Red account was not deposit blocked after an information request deadline had already expired. The customer was allowed to continue depositing, gambling £16,280 ($19,905) in total and losing £8,321 ($10,064) for two more weeks until their account was finally blocked.
- Platinum Gaming’s AML policies, procedures and controls were not appropriate.
- Platinum Gaming failed to ensure that policies, procedures and controls were reviewed and revised properly to ensure that they remained effective.
Kay Roberts is the executive director responsible for operations of the Gambling Commission and she had the following to say regarding this recent enforcement proceeding:
These failures highlight clearly that both operators failed to interact with customers in a way which minimises the risk of them experiencing harms associated with gambling. Our investigations also showed that policies and procedures were overlooked, both around customer accounts and anti-money laundering practices.
Ultimately, it is an example which all gambling operators should take notice of to ensure they protect their customers at all times.
Specific Details About the Infractions
As a part of the Commission investigation, the Commission found that 32Red breached paragraphs 2 and 3 of licence condition 12.1.1., which relates to the prevention of money laundering and terrorist financing. 32Red was also found to have breached paragraph 1 of licence condition 12.1.2., which relates to measures for operators in foreign jurisdictions. The Commission also found that 32Red failed to comply with paragraphs 1 and 2 of social responsibility code of practice (SRCP) 3.4.1, which outlines customer interaction regulations.
As a result of these specific failures, 32Red has been ordered to hand over £4,195,655 ($5,130,027). The brand will also receive an official warning under section 117 (a) of the Gambling Act.
The Commission also found that Unibet has violated many of the same regulations as 32Red. Unibet breached paragraphs 1, 2 and 3 of licence condition 12.1.1. and licence condition 12.1.2. Additionally, the brand also failed to comply with paragraphs 1 and 2 of the SRCP 3.4.1 and 3.9.1, which relate to identifying individual customers.
As a result of these findings, Platinum Gaming (Unibet) will have to fork over £2,937,599 ($3,591,802). Platinum Gaming has also been issued an official warning under section 117 (a) of the Gambling Act. The Commission did note that both 32Red and Platinum Gaming cooperated with the investigation and took steps to address the failures identified.
The UKGC Has Been Seriously Penalizing Infractions
Over the past few years at least, the UKGC has been increasing the size of the fines issued as it aims to address similar violations. Back in August 2022, the agency fined the Entain Group £17 million ($21 million) for violations that are eerily similar to the ones in this current complaint against 32Red and Unibet. Only two months later, the UKGC penalized GG Poker and its parent company.
The size of the fines issued by the UKGC seem to fluctuate based on each individual case. Another example of a serious enforcement action took place back in 2020 when Caesars was fined £13 million ($16 million). Larger fines, like the £7.1 million ($8.68 million) penalty against 32Red and Unibet, certainly send a stronger message to operators.
Gambling Opportunities Still Present in the UK
Fortunately, despite the UKGC and its enforcement methods, safe gambling and poker online still exist for U.K. players. For any UK residents who may be on the lookout for a reliable offshore operator that doesn’t have to deal with the UKGC, then you may want to check out TigerGaming.com. Tiger Gaming boasts numerous kinds of gambling including poker, casino gaming and sports betting. To find out more about this reputable operator and the various bonuses on offer, be sure to explore this detailed review of Tiger Gaming.
For anybody else who may live elsewhere, outside of the U.K., we have prepared detailed guides covering the best gambling options in various areas of the world. To learn more, feel free to check out our gambling guides included below: