White Hat Gaming is to pay a settlement fee of £1.3m plus expenses to cover the investigation after findings from a British gambling commission. The investigation revealed a set of breaches from the company in regards to social responsibility and the prevention of money laundering.
White Hat was originally notified of the investigation at the start of 2020. The investigation was in connection with the operator failing to meet several requirements connected to their gaming license.
The UK gambling commission looked into the account of seven of the operator’s customers, specifically after concerns were raised as a result of a compliance evaluation the previous year. Several issues were raised with the way that the company identified players at high risk of developing problems and/or money laundering.
The commission noticed two license breaches. They also noted that the company was not fulfilling its social responsibility code. The breaches were on the websites Grand Ivy, 21Casino, Hello Casino, and Dream Vegas, all of which are run by White Hat Gaming.
The conditions that were breached were conditions 12.1.1 (2) and 12.1.1 (3). The first of these states that licensees need procedures that detect and prevent money laundering and possible terrorist financing, while the other states that such procedures are implemented effectively, and are reviewed as and when they are needed.
There was also a breach of condition 12.1.2, which is about how licensees must operate in line with the UK’s Money Laundering Regulations of 2007 and 2017.
One breach involved a player who lost a total of £70,000 over the course of 10 months. The company has recognized that they should have acted more responsibly and limited this person’s gambling. There was no investigation into the client at the time.
A second breach was when one customer lost £55,000 between May 2017 and March 2019. This time, the operator did investigate the player’s account. They discovered that he had made a deposit of £30,000 at a land-based casino. Unfortunately, the AML investigation discovered that they did not look into the source of this transaction sufficiently.
As for social responsibility defects, this was in reference to provision 3.4.1 of the code. This code specifies that the operator should have systems in place for customer interaction if they identify a gambler who may have problems developing.
The investigation was able to spot several flaws in the company’s safe gambling procedures. Their investigation stated that the policies in place were not sufficient when it came to interacting with problem gamblers.
One example of this was a player who lost around £70,000 over the course of three months. While a customer intelligence report revealed this player had a successful job and was mortgage-free, the commission stated that White Hat prioritized creating this report, when a direct intervention was the correct course of action. Failure to reach out to the client was evident through the money that was lost.
Another example saw a player who lost £2,000 in a short period of time go on to lose a further £50,000 despite the operator contacting them. The commission reported that the communication was evidently not sufficient due to the nature of the losses suffered.
The company has cooperated with the gambling commission during all of its investigations and has accepted full responsibility for all of the breaches and failings. They are in the process of implementing new features to their sites to prevent further issues in the future. This includes limits that will automatically prevent players from transferring funds while checks are taking place.
The operator has agreed to pay a £1.3m (€1.5m) settlement fee. Another £9,818.63 will be paid to help cover the investigation.