Blue Star Planet, trading as 10Bet, has been fined £620,000 (€698,271/$746,716) by the UK Gambling Commission for a series of breaches in anti-money laundering (AML) and social responsibility.
Blue Star was found to have violated many provisions of the Licence Conditions and Codes of Practice (LCCP), which all licensees in the British market must follow in accordance with their licences, between November 2019 and June 2021.
Blue Star's implementation of AML policies, procedures, and controls was found to be deficient, as were its responsible gambling policies, procedures, controls, and practises, as well as its reporting arrangements.
Particular violations were found in regard to paragraphs 1, 2, and 3 of licence condition 12.1.1, which demand compliance with money laundering and terrorism funding prevention.
The first paragraph, or 12.1.1(1), requires licensees to conduct an adequate and acceptable risk assessment of their business being utilised for money laundering and terrorism funding. Nonetheless, the Commission stated that Blue Star's evaluation was insufficient because it did not expressly address certain high-risk variables or client hazards.
Licensees must have suitable policies, procedures, and controls in place to prevent money laundering and terrorist funding under 12.1.1(2). The Commission stated that this was not the case and cited a number of flaws, including the fact that financial controls to automatically limit the amount consumers may deposit were set too high and that some players could deposit substantial sums before satisfactory risk profiling could take place.
Following that, 12.1.1(3) stipulates that licensees must maintain their policies under review and change them as needed. Several players were able to bet at rapid speeds before automated limitations were placed to their accounts, and in some circumstances, the source of funds was not required until later in the business relationship with the operator.
As a result of its failure under licence condition 12.1.1, the Commission additionally cited a violation of paragraph 1 of licence condition 12.1.2, Anti-Money Laundering Measures for Operators Based in Foreign Jurisdictions.
A second violation of licence condition 8.1.1 was discovered, which says that licensees must display specified information on every screen of their website. This includes a declaration that they are licenced, their account number, and a link to the regulator's website where they may check their licenced status. The Commission notified Blue Star that the link was broken, but it was quickly fixed.
Interaction with customers
Finally, the Commission found Blue Star in violation of Social Responsibility Code Provision (SRCP) 3.4.1 on Consumer Contact paragraphs 1b, 1c, and 2.
According to paragraph 1, licensees must interact with customers in a way that reduces their risk of gambling harm, which includes (a) identifying those who may be at risk of or experiencing gambling harm, (b) interacting with those customers, and (c) understanding the impact of the interaction on the customer. In paragraph 2, licensees must consider the Commission's recommendations on customer engagement.
The Commission stated that Blue Star did not have dedicated compliance workers to monitor safer gaming warnings overnight, and that players who achieved safer gambling triggers overnight would be manually evaluated the following day. Because of this approach, some customers were able to hit many safer gaming triggers without risk evaluations and interactions taking place in real time.
The Commission then claimed that Blue Star failed not implement high-velocity risk alerts, allowing some clients to spend at high velocity without real-time interactions.
The regulator also stated that financial risk alerts in place at the time of the assessment failed to take average discretionary income data into account and failed to identify customers at the earliest opportunity.
The Commission also stated that Blue Star could have provided better evidence of how customer interactions were evaluated for effectiveness, and that the operator did not act quickly enough to identify and interact with two customers who were reviewed by officials during the assessment, despite the fact that both displayed signs of potentially problematic gambling.
In making its decision, the Commission took into account a variety of aggravating considerations, including the serious nature of the violations, the impact on licencing objectives, and the need to encourage compliance among other operators. It also considered the degree of efforts taken to correct violations, Blue Star's early acknowledgment of flaws, and its cooperation.
The Commission agreed to a regulatory settlement that comprised a £620,000 payment in lieu of a financial penalty to be directed to socially responsible organisations, as well as a £3,571.25 contribution towards its own investigative costs. Also, it was agreed that the facts of the case would be revealed.
By fLEXI tEAM