UK Gambling Commission Levies $8.7M Penalty on Kindred Brands for AML Violations

The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) continues to uphold its enforcement measures and recently issued a seven-figure penalty to Kindred Group for its anti-money laundering (AML) and social responsibility failings.

The UKGC’s report on the violations details that 32 Red Limited, a brand of Kindred Group, was hit with a hefty £4.19-million (US$5.15 million) fine in regards to its site management practices. Platinum Gaming, which operates Unibet in the UK, was also found accountable and ordered to pay £2.93 million (US$3.6 million).

The UKGC commonly uses AML and social responsibility as a blanket justification for fines and settlements. Regularly, the regulator has accused operators of not adequately reviewing user activity or failing to do due diligence on spending habits.

32Red was apparently allowing extended gaming sessions that should have indicated the possibility of potential gambling harm, but failed to intervene. An example of their oversight is the case of a user depositing £43,000 (US$52,933) and losing £36,000 (US$44,316) in just a week. The UKGC attributed 32Red’s AML failure to inaccurate revenue statements and inadequate management.

The UKGC also found Unibet lacking in protocols for identifying and assisting customers with duplicate accounts. Additionally, their operational standards, processes, and checks weren’t endorsed and weren’t regularly evaluated for suitability. Furthermore, the sources of funds weren’t properly managed, as a customer’s account should have been blocked from receiving deposits, but it remained open after the deadline to request information. This customer was then able to access their funds and lost £8,321 (US$10,243) after betting £16,280 (US$20,048).

This is the third enforcement action this year and follows a year of collected fines worth more than $15 million. Kindred has responded to the fines and assured that they are taking more steps to ensure they comply with regulations. They have added new staff to their compliance and risk teams, and are aiming to reduce revenue from harmful gambling to zero with their Journey Towards Zero initiative. The group recently reported a 57% drop in revenue from “high-risk” players and a 25% increase in total revenue.