Gambling watchdog slaps 32Red and Unibet-owner with £7.1m fine

Gambling watchdog slaps Glasgow Rangers sponsor 32Red and Unibet-owner Platinum Gaming with £7.1m fine for anti-money laundering failures

  • Kindred Group-owned firms were found to have a number of regulatory failings
  • Latest revelations about similar failings in Britain’s gambling industry

The Gambling Commission has slapped online operators 32Red and Platinum Gaming with fines totalling £7.1million for social responsibility and anti-money laundering failures.

The firms, which are each part of Malta-headquartered Kindred Group, have also been issued with an official warning and the regulator has cautioned other operators to ‘take notice’ of the decision.

It marks the latest in a spate of revelations about similar failings in Britain’s gambling industry, with 888 recently plunged into crisis and its boss forced to quit amid a money laundering probe.

The regulator also recently sanctioned In Touch Games for the third time in four years for money laundering and social responsibility failures. 

32Red is the kit sponsor of Glasgow Rangers Football Club

Platinum Gaming's unibet is the kit sponsor of Middlesbrough FC

Platinum Gaming’s unibet is the kit sponsor of Middlesbrough FC  

The Gambling Commission said 32Red failed to ‘thoroughly implement’ measures described by anti-money laundering (AML) regulations, while its ‘triggers’ for spotting potential money laundering activity ‘were too high and not appropriate to effectively manage money laundering and terrorist financing risks’.

An investigation also found that customers of 32Red, which sponsors Glasgow Rangers Football Club, were not restricted from depositing or gambling while undergoing a ‘source of wealth’ review.

Among other AML failings, the regulator found that one customer account was not deposit backed after an information request deadline had expired.

‘This allowed the customer to continue depositing, gambling £16,280 in total and losing £8,321 for a further two weeks until their account was blocked,’ the regulator explained.

Similarly, Platinum Games, which owns unibet, was found to have inappropriate AML procedures.

The Gambling Commission said: ‘Platinum Gaming failed to ensure that its policies, procedures and controls were kept under review and revised appropriately to ensure that they remained effective.’

With regard to social responsibility, the regulator said 32Red customer gambling session times ‘should have prompted earlier identification of customers who may have been experiencing gambling related harm’.

It added: ‘32Red controls were not effective as they failed to identify and protect potential problem gamblers. For example, one customer was allowed to deposit £43,000 and lose £36,000 within seven days.

‘Customer interactions at 32Red were being carried out and logged, however it was found that they were superficial and lacked depth and probing, with the operator settling for customer assurances that they were comfortable with their level of gambling and that they could afford it.’

Similarly, the Gambling Commission found Platinum Gaming ‘failed to have effective policies and procedures designed to identify separate accounts held by the same individual’, meaning self-excluded or blocked customers were able to register.

Platinum Gaming also failed to identify and interact with customers who may have been experiencing harms associated with gambling, the regulator said.

As a result, 32Red will pay a £4,195,655 fine, while Platinum Gaming will pay £2,937,599.

Kay Roberts, executive director of the Gambling Commission said: ‘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.’

Commenting on the fines, CEO of Kindred Group Henrik Tjärnström said the firm had ‘already taken significant steps to strengthen our processes’ but will ‘need to work even harder to ensure a safe and compliant business’. 

He added: ‘We appreciate the Commission’s clear recognition that our operations are in an improving position and that we remain fit to hold an operating licence. 

‘Our commitment to reducing gambling harm across our platforms is a key part of our Journey towards Zero ambition – and we are redoubling our efforts to ensure we continue that progress.’