New Year: Same old fines?

Our iGaming specialist, Alec Cudworth, explores the current UK gaming market and tries to answer the big question, are gambling operators in for another record-breaking year of fines?
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Entering 2023

With anticipation for the new whitepaper, an increasing focus on responsible gambling, and lots of exciting changes upcoming within LexisNexis® Risk Solutions; I began 2023 full of optimism.

But so far it feels less “new year, new start” and more “new year, same old fines”

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Looking back...

In 2022, a reported £44M¹ worth of fines were handed out to both online operators and land-based casinos for reported Responsible Gambling and Financial Crime failings. And this trend has continued into this year, with fines already totaling over £7M² reported by the UKGC.

Over the past 5 years we have seen a lot of changes to regulation, and with more guidance than ever, you’d imagine that we are all old pros when it comes to complying with regulation and knowing what the UKGC expect from us.

The recently released Social Responsibility Code 3.4.3 guidance looks to minimise the risk of players experiencing harms associated with gambling by providing insight into how to identify signs of vulnerability early, and when to interact with customers to provide support. I was hopeful that we would have some clear guidance on how to protect players AND avoid fines. However, we still saw fines issued to those deemed as slow to interact, or whom failed to interact at all with certain customers.

Will the eagerly awaited White Paper, make it any clearer?

I think it must. We’ve all heard rumors on the grapevine that some operators are reviewing the market with the possibility of relinquishing their license to operate in the UK. Opting to focus on other regions, rather than be subject to audits and the fear of fines.

This issue is not limited to the UK market, and operators across the world face a constant flow of new challenges in order to comply with regulation, protect players from harm, reduce acquisition costs and react to new fraud trends, all whilst delivering the best experience to their customers.

That said, we’ve also seen a lot of fines relating to failures to adequately prevent financial crime. This is something that we can’t blame on regulation.

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What is the common challenge?

Implementing new systems and technology to meet player protection obligations often draws resources and focus away from other areas.

Cybercriminals are always two steps ahead, utilising new technology and methods to evade detection. It’s becoming exceedingly difficult for businesses to be able to discern between trusted customers and criminals. As an industry, we are massively behind other sectors in terms of robust financial crime detection. Reported failures to conduct adequate risk assessments, failure to perform enhanced customer due diligence checks soon enough, or placing excessive reliance on open-source information, are all too common.

LexisNexis® Risk Solutions is a pioneer of data analytics, helping companies in many industries gain insights so that they can make better decisions to protect their customers, employees and shareholders.

Fraud and identity management solutions from LexisNexis Risk Solutions combine physical and digital identity insights with advanced verification and authentication technology, so that businesses can gain a precise view of consumer identity risk in order to make better informed decisions.

Our solutions allow operators to combat fraud and financial crime and identify potential vulnerability, whilst offering a more secure experience for players without invasive or time-consuming processes. For regulated gaming markets such as the UK and Europe, operators should look to gather as much intelligence as possible on the customer before calling out to a third-party data provider to perform KYC checks. This helps identify fraudsters and bots as well as potentially self-excluded players upfront, reducing acquisition costs, fraud losses and helping identify vulnerability early on, better protecting players from harm.

So the big question is, are we in for another record-breaking year of fines?

Alec Cudworth, F&I Sales Specialist, iGaming UK & Ireland. LexisNexis® Risk Solutions

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