Land-Based Casino Operator VGC Leeds Limited Fined £450,000 By UKGC
Land-based casino operator VGC Leeds Limited has been fined £450,000 by the UK Gambling Commission over a series of failures.
This week, the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) confirmed that it had issued a £450,000 fine to VGC Leeds Limited, trading as Global Gaming Ventures, for failings in the way the company identified and managed customers who were at risk of money laundering and gambling-related harm.
According to the UKGC’s full report, the regulatory body investigated VGC’s handling of ten customers after concerns identified via a compliance assessment back in July 2019. The Commission’s investigation found that VGC failed to implement effective anti-money laundering and safe gambling policies and procedures, as required under their license with the UKGC.
The UKGC found that one customer at VGC incurred losses of £275,000 over 22 months before the firm requested source of funds evidence, while a second customer incurred losses of £93,294 over 16 months since registering with the casino in 2017, but several “no concern” interactions were recorded on the customer’s profile. What’s more, the UKGC states that the second customer failed to provide source of funds evidence for several weeks but was permitted to continue gambling at the casino.
Helen Venn, the UK Gambling Commission’s Executive Director, said in a statement: “These failings were identified as part of our ongoing drive to raise standards across the whole gambling industry. All operators should be very aware that we will not hesitate to take action against those who fail to follow the rules that are in place to make gambling safe and prevent it [from] being a source of crime. Consumer protection should be an operator’s main priority and we should advise every gambling business to read today’s public statement so they do not make the same mistakes as VGC.”
As a result, VGC has committed to a series of ongoing improvements and will carry out a full review of the process for collation, review and sign-off of customer profiles; carry out a review of all customers previously approved Enhanced Due Diligence (EDD) checks; carry out a gap analysis to assess whether its policies and procedures require improvement, and update and implement a new version of its social responsibility policy.
The firm has also agreed to develop a relationship with NHS Nothern Gambling Clinic to improve the skills and awareness of its staff in interacting with customers, to improve its record keep practices with a stronger focus on the quality of recording of customer interactions, and introduce new reports to identify a change of behaviours in customers.
As reported by the UK Gambling Commission, the £450,000 regulatory settlement consists of £241,000 to represent the amount of financial gain accrued as a result of the failings and a £209,000 payment in lieu of a financial penalty, all of which will be directed towards delivering the National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms. A further payment of £21,586.17 will be paid to cover the Commission’s investigation costs.
More recently, the UK Gambling Commission announced a series of changes to its regulation of digital gambling products following the publication of the DCMS’ investigation into BetIndex, the collapse of its Football Index website, and the UK Gambling Commission’s handling of the betting firm.
ASA Upholds Facebook Post Complaint Against Napoleons Casinos
Meanwhile, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has upheld a complaint about a Facebook and website post for Napoleons Casinos, which is owned by A&S Leisure Group.
As reported by Gambling Insider, the complainant challenged a Facebook post and Napoleons Casinos’ homepage, which promise customers “unrestricted gambling” with valid IDs and “unlimited gaming entry into prize draws”, for being socially irresponsible.
Although A&S argued that it was free to offer unrestricted gambling in compliance with the Commission’s money laundering policies, the ASA upheld the complaint and found the posts to have breached the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) Code, which states that advertisements cannot portray or encourage socially irresponsible gambling.
A statement from the ASA reads: “The ASA understood that under the applicable Money Laundering Regulations, limits were set as to the amounts that members and non-members of Napoleons Casinos were allowed to spend or cash out at the casino. However, we considered that most consumers would be unaware that the claim ‘unlimited gambling’ referred specifically to those limits set by the regulations.”
It continued: “We considered the claim ‘unlimited gaming’ was likely to have the same meaning as ‘unlimited gambling’ since gaming in a casino inevitably required that consumers spent money.”
The news comes after the ASA banned an “irresponsible” advertisement for Coral that appeared on the company’s Twitter account back in 2020. The ad sparked a complaint claiming that it encouraged gambling behaviour and was socially irresponsible. The ASA upheld the complaint and found it to be in breach of the CAP Code, resulting in the ban.
Relax Gaming Launches In Netherlands, Signs Partnership With Holland Casino
Also this week, game developer Relax Gaming has launched in the newly launched Netherlands gambling market and has signed a partnership with Holland Casino.
Yesterday (October 13), the leading game developer celebrated its launch in the Netherlands after obtaining full certification from the country’s regulator, the Netherlands Gambling Authority (NGA) or Kansspelautoriteit. With the license, Relax Gaming has been able to launch all of its games as well as content by its 24 studio partners under the Powered By Relax and Silver Bullet programmes.
The launch in the Netherlands is part of Relax Gaming’s mission in expanding its reach worldwide. Commenting on the success, Relax Gaming’s Chief Regulatory Officer Alexia Smilovic-Ronde said: “We see this latest success as a key milestone for both Relax Gaming and our high-valued partners as the market regulates and starts to grow.
“We believe this will be a highly valuable and successful market entry for all associated parties as we provide our best-in-class product suite and unique concepts to players in the Netherlands. This is a continuation of the drive that underpins our hard-earned reputation for driving differentiation in the industry.”
Alongside launching the Dutch market, Relax Gaming has also announced its first Netherlands-partnered operator, Holland Casino. The state-owned group operates 14 land-based casinos across the country and was one of the first ten gambling firms to receive an online casino license approval.
Under the partnership, Relax Gaming has launched its entire portfolio of casino games with the website, including Money Train 2, Temple Tumble, Helios Fury, Volatile Vikings, Iron Bank, King Of Kings, Blackjack, Dead Mans Trail, Roulette, and several others. The website will also receive all content available with Relax Gaming’s Powered By Relax and Silver Bullet programmes.
Daniel Eskola, the COO at Relax Gaming, said in a statement: “As one of the Netherland’s most popular casinos, it’s a fantastic advantage for us to be partnering with Holland Casino at this important juncture for the market and furthering the distribution of our proprietary and third-party games to new audiences.
“This collaboration is testament to both the quality and variety provided through our platform as we drive differentiation and we look forward to working closely with them to deliver a tailored offering that caters specifically to the Dutch market.”
Jeroen Verkroost, the Digital Transformation Director at Holland Casino, added: “Relax’s reputation for business simplicity and efficient integration have made it a platform we have been eager to integrate with for quite some time. We have great expectations for this partnership and know our customers will be big fans of the range of engaging and market-specific online casino content that is already live.”
ORYX Gaming Content Joins Playtech Games Marketplace
Finally, Bragg Gaming Group’s ORYX Gaming has signed an agreement with Playtech to integrate its entire content portfolio with the Playtech Games Marketplace in the UK, Spain, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and Italy.
ORYX Gaming offers over 10,000 casino games from more than 100 third-party developers, including Kalamba, Gamomat, Peter & Sons, and ORYX’s in-house studio, which is set to release five titles in 2021. All of this content has now been made available to operators through the Playtech Games Marketplace, helping ORYX Gaming expand its reach worldwide.
Chris Looney, the Chief Commercial Officer at Bragg Gaming Group, said in a statement: “This partnership continues our expansion into regulated markets, getting our content in front of more of the industry’s leading operators and their players. Playtech Games Marketplace is the perfect platform to complement our vast offering and engagement tools at a time of our market expansion globally.”
Playtech’s Commercial Director Andrew Muir added: “ORYX’s wide range of games will be a fantastic addition to the impressive portfolio of games we offer to our partners through the Playtech Games Marketplace. We aim to deliver our customers the best possible experience with the market’s finest games, and we’re delighted to welcome ORYX on board.”
The news comes after ORYX Gaming was given certification to launch in the Dutch online gambling market and comes as ORYX Gaming continues to strike agreements with gambling firms to boost its reach, including Novibet, Admiral Bet, DragonHack, Logrand, and more. It also recently acquired certification to launch in Greece and has acquired studios Spin Games and Wild Stream Gaming to boost its expansion across the United States.