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What will 2022 hold for the UKGC and the gambling industry?

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The UKGC report reveals operator shortcomings in AML and CFT procedures due to conflicting priorities.


Surely, the UK Gambling Commission is easily one of the toughest regulatory bodies in the industry.

A recent Compliance and Enforcement report for 2020/21, highlights shortcomings in anti-money laundering (AML) and social responsibility procedures.

According to the UKGC, the reasons for these shortcomings might be the focus on profit over compliance.

A look at the year in the industry

The UKGC is a tough stone to crack and for good reason, considering it is responsible for regulating online casinos where millions of users participate in gameplay.

According to the UKGC, a primary concern apart from the failings itself is the reasoning behind it. The casework reveals that operators are not making suitable resources available or that they are putting commercial objectives ahead of regulatory ones.

The report cites that a lack of due diligence is a major contributor to the failures regarding AML and CFT. In addition, various operations have thresholds on checks considered too high. The review reveals that a number of operators also don't have the right risk assessment methodology in place for money laundering and terrorist financing.

With this report, the UKGC made sure to remind licensees that they expect full compliance with the terms of their licensing, which includes anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing.

They are also expected to comply with the requirements of Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing, and Transfer of Funds Regulations 2019, which includes the 2020 and 2021 amendments made by the government.

What will 2022 hold for the industry?

With so many red flags and concerns, the UKGC will likely bring in more restrictions and changes to address these issues.

Affordability checks

They already made an announcement that UK operators should expect the implementation of customer affordability checks.

In a speech at the Collaboration in the Prevention of Gambling Harm conference organized by GambleAware, Minister for Tech and the Digital Economy, Chris Philip states that gambling harm can only be effectively tackled together. The focus will be on prevention rather than treatment, which will put more pressure on operators and the procedures they implement to detect and prevent gambling addiction than treat it.

Unaffordable losses are a clear sign of gambling that has gotten out of control and for this reason, affordability checks need to be 'proportionate'.

Single Player Views

Another announcement was the launch of a single customer view (SCV) which is inevitable. This system will keep gamblers from jumping between operators and possibly developing problems playing online.

Collaboration

The Minister also states that they will continue to work alongside the Commission on affordability until the White Paper is published. They will share data, tools, and ideas on how to improve the industry for all players and operators.

With a collaboration between the government and the UK gambling commission, there are more restrictions bound to be announced in the days ahead. All for the greater good with the purpose of ensuring player safety.

The CEO of GambleAware, Zoe Osmond, is ecstatic with the minister's announcements and says they welcome the idea of the government working hand in hand with the Gambling Commission to better the industry and protect players. Osmond continued, saying it delights them to hear the government endorses the collaboration between treatment providers, policymakers, and the industry in supporting those at risk of gambling harm.

It's a relief to hear that the government is in the process of reviewing funding for treatment, prevention, and research as funding is mandatory for addressing gambling harms effectively.

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