Online Casino Operator SkillOnNet Fined £305,150 for Regulatory Violations

Brett C. - May 24, 2023
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SkillOnNet, a leading online casino operator, has been fined £305,150 by the UK Gambling Commission for multiple regulatory violations, including anti-money laundering and social responsibility requirements. OCR reporters explore the specifics of these regulatory breaches, including their impact on customers and the measures taken in the settlement agreement against SkillOnNet.

The United Kingdom Gambling Commission has imposed a fine of £305,150 (€350,351/$378,299) on online casino operator SkillOnNet due to several infractions, specifically related to anti-money laundering (AML) regulations and social responsibility requirements. SkillOnNet, managing 50 online platforms across the UK, has agreed to this financial penalty as part of a settlement deal with the regulator, with proceeds earmarked for socially responsible initiatives.

The Gambling Commission's review of SkillOnNet's operations from 2021-2022 revealed significant Licence Conditions and Codes of Practice breaches. In addition, the operator fell short in its anti-money laundering and responsible gambling policies, including inadequate assessment of risks related to money laundering, organized crime, and 'mule' accounts.

Operator Failed to Implement Adequate Controls

The Gambling Commission noted SkillOnNet's violation of licence condition 12.1.1 (2), which involves implementing measures to curb money laundering and terrorist financing. The operator lacked suitable procedures to review a customer's income for identifying excessive spending and overly relied on player declarations and unverified comments for anti-money laundering (AML) profiling and expenditure assessments.

SkillOnNet breached two licence conditions: 12.1.1(3) and 12.1.2. They allowed customers to deposit and lose beyond the £2,000 limit, made assumptions about customers' reinvestment of winnings, and didn't sufficiently identify or manage money laundering and terrorist financing risks, failing to adhere to the 2017 regulatory standards.

SkillOnNet's Social Responsibility Lapses & Regulatory Settlement Details

The Gambling Commission cited multiple violations of the Social Responsibility Code Provision (SRCP) by SkillOnNet, which failed to engage with customers to mitigate gambling harm properly. Fundamental failings included not identifying harmful customer behaviours, overlooking risky betting patterns, and ignoring signs of unnecessary spending, as evidenced by a player losing £3,000 per month.

The operator also didn't recognize extended night-time play as a potential harm marker. Furthermore, their customer interaction strategy, heavily reliant on automated pop-ups, was insufficient to prevent harm, as shown by a player who continued gambling despite multiple alerts and lost £3,225 over 41 days. These interactions lacked thorough scrutiny and relied too heavily on customers' declarations.

Details of the Regulatory Settlement

The Gambling Commission and SkillOnNet reached a regulatory settlement to conclude the case. The agreement included an initial payment of £305,150, an additional £9,079 towards the cost of the investigation, and a commitment to allow case details to be made public. SkillOnNet also consented to undergo an independent third-party audit and to enhance their AML and safer gambling policies.

The Commission appreciated SkillOnNet's swift actions to correct the violations, cooperation during the investigation, and acceptance of all key identified failings.

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