British bookmaker Betfred has reached a settlement with the Gambling Commission regulator that will see it pay a fine of over $1.15 million for failing to observe proper anti-money laundering procedures.
Warrington-based Betfred was forced to undergo a review of its licence after allowing an individual in West Yorkshire who had stolen nearly $1.21 million from their employer to wager a “significant proportion” of these funds online.
An investigation by the Gambling Commission determined that Betfred had made only “informal” and “ad-hoc” efforts to identify the sources of the bettor’s wealth while additionally failing to keep proper records of any checks. This was despite the customer, who was sentenced to 40 months in prison in January, being in its top-five percentile in terms of spend and profit and presenting a bank statement with an “irregular” pattern of deposits.
As part of its defense, Betfred claimed that it believed the customer had been “a director of a successful and established company” as well as a professional gambler who had won significant amounts of money with other operators. However, the Gambling Commission determined that the operator had failed to carry out the appropriate checks to verify this information.
“We identified a number of weaknesses in the anti-money laundering and social responsibility controls used by Betfred,” read a statement from Richard Watson, Programme Director for the Gambling Commission. “The penalty package of over $1.15 million reflects these failures.”
The agreed deal will see Betfred pay $42,934 to cover the costs of the Gambling Commission’s investigation while additionally agreeing to conduct an independent third-party review and audit of its anti-money laundering and social responsibility policies and procedures. Moreover, the bookmaker is to hand over a voluntary settlement of $1.11 million of which $628,976 has been earmarked for the victims of the fraud with the remainder going to socially responsible causes.
This is the latest in a string of similar cases that included Gala Coral Group being fined over $1.24 million in April while Paddy Power was hit for $440,000 in February. December saw Caesars Interactive Entertainment agree to pay in excess of $1.19 million with Rank Group being penalized in September to the tune of $1.34 million.
“The Gambling Commission has now concluded a wide range of cases over the last ten months leading to around $5.31 million in penalty packages,” read the statement from Watson. “The outcomes and findings in these cases provide a clear signal to operators of the need to learn the lessons from these for social responsibility and money laundering controls or risk facing tougher sanctions.”