Anti-money laundering is a big deal for regulators and operators must make sure they’re always on the right side of the law if they want to hold on to their licenses. Betfred has been slapped with a fine of over £320,000 for not upholding AML obligations that are part of its conditions of licensing from the UKGC.
In early October 2019, Petfre Gibraltar Limited, which operates Betfred as its flagship brand, was fined £322,000 by the UK Gambling Commission. The UKGC investigated an incident that happened two years prior and found that Betfred had, in that case, not complied with anti-money laundering regulations that required it to prove its players’ source of funds.
The Commission’s report sheds more light on the incident. A player had, in November of 2017, deposited a rather sizeable £210,000 and subsequently lost £140,000 over the course of twelve days. The UKGC had received information about a player using stolen funds to gamble at several online casinos, including Betfred.
It emerged that Betfred had not done the appropriate checks on the player’s source of funds, which it turned out came from fraudulent activity. The player was later convicted of defrauding some £2 million.
The report highlights shortcomings in Betfred’s AML policies and risk management. Betfred requested proof of the player’s source of funds twice but both were ignored. Despite this, the player was still able to deposit hundreds of thousands in stolen funds without proving their provenance.
The UKGC’s report reads: “A customer being able to deposit and lose such significant amounts in such a short period of time clearly indicated failings in the effectiveness of Petfre’s anti-money laundering policies and procedures.”
Betfred was sentenced to pay back the £140,000 the player in question lost and the remainder of the fine sum - £182,000 - would be contributed to the National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms.
The UKGC and Betfred have reached an agreement to make the investigation public. The operator agreed to the public disclosure to serve as an example and a deterrent to other UKGC-licensed operators. Betfred will also be covering the costs of the investigation, which ran to about £15,000.
Despite its failure to adhere to its AML obligations in this instance, the UKGC had words of praise for the operator. Petfre cooperated fully during the investigation, ensuring that all the information required by investigators was made available quickly.
The Commission also pointed out that the specific failure under investigation was not due to an absence of AML measures but rather to specific breaches in existing protocols. It also praised Betfred’s willingness to make the investigation public so it could serve as an education experience for other operators.
Looking at the bigger picture, it’s worth noting that Betfred has been keeping its nose clean for several years. The incident it is being fined for in 2019 actually took place two years earlier and its last fine before that was issued in 2016. That was as a result of a license review by the Commission and resulted in a sizeable £800,000 penalty.
It’s evident that Betfred has made positive strides in keeping its compliance policies up to date. Earlier this year, it was the target of ASA advertising allegations but has since been cleared.