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Thursday, 5 November 2020

UK Gambling Commission Revokes Silverbond Enterprises’ Gambling License

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The UK Gambling Commission has revoked the gambling license of Silverbond Enterprises Limited, the owner of Park Lane Casino, a members-only casino venue in Mayfair, London.

According to the Gambling Commission, the regulatory body made the decision to revoke the operator’s license due to a change in corporate control of which the Gambling Commission was not satisfied with. Subject to appeal, the revocation of the Silverbond Enterprises’ license will take effect on November 18, 2020.

The Commission also stated in its announcement that it would not have granted the operator a license had the new corporate controller been a controller of the company when the application for a license was originally made. What’s more, the Commission said it was not satisfied with Silverbond Enterprises’ explanation regarding the source of funds used to acquire and support the licensee at the time of change in corporate control, and to whom all future profits would be paid to.

In the Commission’s regulatory decisions register, the organisation revealed it had found several failings and licensing breaches following an extensive review into Silverbond Enterprises Limited’s operations.  According to the Commission, Silverbond Enterprises breached its license conditions by failing to complete full Enhanced Due Diligence (EDD) checks on its top 250 customers. The operator also failed to comply with anti-money laundering requirements and the Commission’s social responsibility code of practice.

As a result of the failings and license breach, the Commission has struck Silverbond Enterprises with a penalty of £1.8 million under section 121 of the Gambling Act 2005 and has issued a warning under section 117(1)(a) of the Gambling Act 2005. It has also imposed additional conditions to the licensee’s holder under section 117(1)(b) of the Gambling Act 2005.

Speaking about the revocation, UK Gambling Commission Executive Director Helen Venn said in a statement: “We regulate gambling in the public interest and to maintain public confidence in the industry. In doing this, we must be provided with information about those who run or have significant interest in gambling businesses.

“We revoked this license because we are not satisfied as to the source of funds (SOF) used to acquire and support the Licensee at the time of the change of corporate control or to whom future profits of the Licensee would be paid. We also identified concerns with the suitability of the new controller because of its unsatisfactory history in providing information requested as part of our enquiries.”

The news comes after the UK Gambling Commission suspended Genesis Global Limited’s gambling license back in July over multiple failings, forcing the operator to shut all of its UK-facing casino websites. However, the suspension was lifted last month, allowing Genesis Global Limited to relaunch its online casinos in the United Kingdom, including websites Genesis Casino, Casino Gods, Casoola, and numerous others.

New Mandatory Loss Limits

Also this week, the Telegraph revealed that the UK Gambling Commission is consulting over implementing a £100 limit on gambling losses to trigger action and interventions by betting operators to prevent players from over-spending and developing gambling-related harm.

According to the Telegraph, the consultation has found that more than half of the UK’s population have a “discretionary” income of under £250 a month after having paid all bills and food and accommodation costs, and many use this for gambling. However, the Commission has said that it’s taken into account that this disposable income isn’t solely used for gambling but also for travel, leisure, and other activities.

While data from the consultation revealed that only 17% of all online slot gamblers and 9% of all non-slot players had suffered a monthly reported loss of more than £100, around 21% of all gamblers in the UK have admitted to over-spending – a trait gambling most frequently identified in problem gamblers.

The Commission’s consultation has said that the loss limits set by gambling operators at “tens of thousands” were not appropriate in the face of its extensive research and documents have described £2,000 loss limits as “neither realistic not appropriate”.

The regulatory body has suggested that the lowest possible threshold for loss limits should be “at least £100 loss per calendar month”, stating that most gambling operators have set their loss limits “too high” with many being in the £10,000s. The firm also criticised gambling operators’ “inconsistent” approaches to helping customers, saying:

“Our compliance and enforcement teams have reviewed numerous cases where individuals have demonstrated gambling-related harms and yet have been able to continue to gamble without effective action being taken. Some of these individuals have funded their gambling activity through crime, but the majority of cases were customers relying on unsuitable funds such as loans, inheritance, personal injury or redundancy payments. Common to all these cases have been the ineffective control frameworks used by the operators to identify and manage the risk.”

The Commission concluded in its consultation that regardless of whatever evidence submitted, gambling operators should be prohibited from setting loss limit thresholds at “unrealistic” levels or of the levels tackled by the Commission’s enforcement activity.

The regulatory body’s consultation on loss limit thresholds is part of a wider discussion on measures that could be implemented to better protect vulnerable players when gambling. Other measures the Commission is considering include time limits of an hour after which players are challenged over their continuous betting.

Already this year, the Commission banned the use of credit cards for gambling both online and offline, and it worked with the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) to create a new code of conduct on the design and play of video slots.

The new slot code of conduct requires all video slots to now have a minimum game cycle speed of 2.5 seconds per spin, and it removes the multi-play feature, which allowed users to play more than one game at a time, and the turbo feature, which allowed users to speed-up gameplay. The new rules also require operators to conduct additional checks on player activity to spot any signs of gambling-related harm.

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