The world of poker has known its controversies. From the shutting down of websites to arguing the outcome of games, and on occasion – a few incidents involving gunmen storming offline events. Today we look into a slightly different matters, though. 32Red, an established British online casino, has been fined £2 million over its failure to conduct a number of anti-money laundering and social responsibilities checks.
The Backdrop of a Scandal
Between November 2014 and April 2017, 32Red had a customer who managed to stake up to £758,000 without undergoing any screening process. An investigation was launched by the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC), the country’s highest authority on gambling issues. Shortly after, the UKGC has come up with a conclusive proof, that 32Red had indeed overlooked a number of screening procedures it must have carried out.
The said gambler’s monthly income barely inched up of £2,000 a month, when the average money played was £45,000. The defence 32Red mounted was unconvincing. The operator cited a receipt provided by the customer where they stated the monthly income was £13,000.
UKGC managed to establish discrepancies that returned it to its original number. Furthermore, the person’s income was volatile and as such, it was not credible basis to accept such wagers.
The UKGC has been right to step in. In a recent study conducted by another respected regulator, the Australian Gambling Research Centre, it was established that, for example, 40% of all poker players have moderate to severe gambling addiction.
A Storm in a Bottle – How to Handle the Looming Crisis
And so, the UKGC found obvious discrepancies between what the upheld values of 32Red were and what they in fact did. While this conclusion may seem a tad harsh, the most shocking aspect of the case has been quite revealing – the casino had been offering free bonuses on regular basis to keep the customer coming back.
Even more shockingly, the customer themselves had expressed regrets in front of staffers that they might be wagering too much. However, 32Red remained passive to that appeal, which alone certainly merits the moral reprimand and hefty price tag.
With gambling becoming a more popular practice by the day, across the various branches of the iGaming industry, poker & online casinos included, stricter regulations are needed. But more importantly still, the whole industry needs operators that are in fact prepared to carry out the security checks in full. Richard Watson, UKGC Executive Director, has indicated that in the event such checks were omitted or overlooked with the intent on the part of regulators, then the UKGC will step in and hit the companies with the full force of the law.
Watson reprimanded the gross omission in the screening process of 32Red. Meanwhile, Kindred, the parent company has said that it would introduce practices that will successfully develop reliable screening programs.
Indeed, much is needed to restore the credibility of the industry. The tightening regulations will definitely not make it any easier for the operator to cheat, too.