Legislation News of the Week: UKGC Launches Innovative Industry Forum, KSA Investigates Betent and Playnorth for AML

The UK Gambling Commission establishes a pioneering Industry Forum. Kindred and fellow companies withdraw from the Norwegian market. At the same time, the KSA is conducting an investigation into Betent and Playnorth for non-compliance with AML rules. The Swedish Gambling Association supports more stringent AML penalties. And a withdrawal deadline is established for In Touch Games' customers.

UKGC launches innovative industry forum

The GB Gambling Commission has presented a novel entity named the Industry Forum, with the aim of enhancing its grasp on operators' perspectives. This forum will serve as a complement to various stakeholder engagement endeavors and advisory panels.

In addition, it will work in tandem with the Commission’s consumer research endeavors and foster connections with customer insight agencies and regulatory bodies on a global scale. In light of the Commission's recent initiative to dispel misunderstandings pertaining to financial risk evaluations, colloquially referred to as affordability assessments, there have been notable developments.

Andrew Rhodes, who is the Commission’s CEO, voiced apprehension regarding the considerable dissemination of inaccurate information in reaction to the consultation, spanning across both traditional media and digital social platforms. Marcus Boyle, the Commission's chair, believes that the forum will provide a fresh channel for the regulator to engage with industry representatives.

The forum is slated to comprise ten members, with the chair position open for recruitment and a subsequent three-year term. The search for the chair will commence this month.

Kindred and peers exit the Norwegian market

Kindred, alongside Betsson, ComeOn, and Bet365, is in the process of discontinuing its operations in Norway, as announced by the country's regulator, Lotteritilsynet. This decision marks the resolution of a long-standing controversy. Lotteritilsynet did not explicitly name Kindred but referred to them as "the company behind Unibet." 

On top of that, the list of exiting companies included Bingo, Storspiller, and Mariacasino, all of which are operated in Norway by Kindred's subsidiary Trannel. Henrik Nordal, the director of Lotteritilsynet, emphasized that this is a company not permitted to offer or promote gambling to Norwegians. He holds the conviction that the exit of prominent illicit gambling operators will significantly bolster safety and cultivate a culture of responsible money-wagering within the Norwegian market. The regulator also issued a warning that companies failing to withdraw may face website blocks in 2024.

KSA investigates Betent and Playnorth

The Kansspelautoriteit (KSA), the Dutch regulatory body, has issued citations to Betent and PlayNorth for violating the Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing Prevention Act (Wwft). It's the first time the watchdog has issued such sanctions. The investigation began on May 3, 2022, with KSA requesting customer investigation examples. 

While data was provided, crucial dates were omitted, causing uncertainty in risk analysis. Betent also retained unnecessary BSN numbers. KSA ordered their removal. Further, KSA found that Betent didn't scrutinize high-loss players' fund sources, a Wwft violation. Out of 17 investigations, 12 were deemed insufficient. This highlights the need for stringent due diligence in customer investigations.

Swedish Gambling Association backs stricter AML penalties

The Swedish online gambling association stands behind a governmental proposal to escalate penalties for breaches linked to anti-money laundering (AML). This would align them with those for disregarding the country's Gambling Act. The Riksdag must approve the proposal for it to become law, with effect from April 1, 2024, if passed.

While BOS backs the proposition due to AML risks, it raises reservations about the new rules. These include the need for high-quality regulator decisions, emphasizing their impact on financial systems, and advocating for penalties dictated by gross gambling revenue (GGR) rather than total handle. 

This shift follows a May 2023 ruling by the Supreme Administrative Court (SAC), capping penalty fees at 10% of GGR or a minimum of SEK5,000. Following Genesis Global's appeal and challenge of its penalty for failing to integrate white-label brands into Sweden's Spelpaus system, a verdict was rendered by the SAC.

Withdrawal deadline set for In Touch games customers

In response to the recent suspension of In Touch Games' licenses, British players have until 6th March next year to receive funds. The Gambling Commission cited concerns about suitability and flagged issues related to money laundering, fair terms, and event reporting. In Touch has surrendered its license and will return balances via registered payment methods.

Players can log in to manually withdraw funds or contact support through live chat. Game access and deposits are now restricted. After 6th March, accounts will be inaccessible, and any remaining balances held by the operator. For post-closure fund access, contact customer support via email.

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