In June 2018 32Red was penalised to the tune of £2 million following an investigation by the Gambling Commission. They were found to have serious failings in their social responsibility and money laundering checks but they weren’t the first company to be slapped with a hefty fine for this reason.
£7.8 million was the fine levied against 888 back in August 2017 after they were found to fall short on their social responsibility processes too. These sort of shortcomings are not a new occurrence.
Head to the Gambling Commission website and perform a search for ‘fine’ and you’ll be presented with a whole host of operators who have been under the Gambling Commission’s magnifying glass and not just recently either.
In 2014 bet365 (Hillside (New Media) Ltd came under scrutiny following an investigation by West Yorkshire Police which led to the conviction of a person for theft and money laundering.
It was only in the autumn of 2013 that the Gambling Commission drew attention to a number of failings and suggested that the online gambling industry as a whole needed to address them.
Since that time, things have changed quite dramatically and the onus is now on the operator to check and double check that someone who is depositing a lot of money is in a financial position to do so. But what does this mean for you as a player, and would you continue to gamble if you had to prove that you could afford to do so?
Invasion Of Privacy Or Happy To Supply?
As someone who likes to spin the slot reels or bet on the turn of a card, or spin of a roulette wheel when finances allow, having to provide proof of income in order to continue play, I’d be reticent to do so.
From what I can gather, this is not a process that all players are going to have to undertake but one that would be implemented because the operator in question had concerns about the level of spending of any player requested to provide proof of income.
It often feels quite an invasion of privacy having to provide your passport, a utility bill and the back and front of your debit card to make a withdrawal. To have to provide your payslip in order to be able to deposit is just a step too far!
Changes For The Better
When no deposit required bonuses where first introduced, how many of us felt a little uneasy about entering our financial details?
We’ve all gotten used to the security and ID checks that have to be undertaken when you withdraw funds from an online casino, bingo, poker or sports betting site for the first time. When this happened to you for the first time, chances are that you felt quite incredulous at the request, after all, it wasn’t required in order to deposit and you certainly didn’t have to wait five days for a deposit to go through!
The chances are that when and if the request for your financial information does come, as annoying and frustrating as it might be, it’s something you are likely to have to do in order to continue gambling with the site that asks for the information.
With so many sites networked or linked in some way, not providing the details could prove problematic in playing at other sites from the same company.
For the most part, online gamblers do so sensibly and within the limits of their own budget but when you look at the amount of money that was being spent by the players failed by the companies who were fined, it’s clear to see that a more robust system needs to be put into place.
Between November 2014 and April 2017 one player was able to deposit £758,000 but no checks had taken place.
The customer in question had even spoken to support and used phrases like ‘I’ve deposited quite a sum” and “All I seem to do is deposit”. 22 separate incidences of contact were recorded that indicated a gambling problem.
One player staked over £1.3 million of which £55,000 had been stolen from their employer. Over a year or so, the player placed an extensive number of bets and was gambling 3-4 hours a day but there was little to no interaction between the site and the player.
Additionally, players who had self-excluded on one 888 wallet (for example casino) were able to open accounts on other wallets and place bets.
736 SkyBet customers were able to open new accounts following self-exclusion and continue to gamble.
A More Narrative Relationship
If you look at your own relationship with the sites that you choose to wager with, how much time have you spent talking to an operator or support?
Often this is limited to when a request is made of a player to provide their ID when they are lucky enough to process a withdrawal. One of the issues that were prevalent in many of the cases of operators being fined was that the Gambling Commission felt that there should have been more communication, but how much is too much?
Are online casinos and gambling operators going to be put in a position where there has to be so much of a narrative between themselves and their customers that actually, players stop playing?
Everything that the Gambling Commission is implementing is to benefit the player but in all honesty, it feels a little too intrusive and the fear is that it is going to drive those that do have a gambling problem underground, to sites that aren’t as reputable as those that are trying to adhere to all the rules and regulations.
It’s literally a minefield for the operators and one that they are going to have to navigate very carefully. On one side is the player, and on the other is the Gambling Commission but it is the latter holding the loaded gun in the form of a substantial fine.