UK and European gambling regulators are no longer playing games when it comes to AML and RG non-compliance.
With public confidence in the industry at an all-time low, enforcement action by the regulator has become common and hard-line after repeated failures from some of the big operators across the gambling world.
Operators, regulators and affiliates gathered in Malta at the end of November for the latest edition of SIGMA. Thousands of attendees gathered for a series of workshops and seminars, but the topics being discussed across the event had a common theme: financial crime and problem gambling.
This developed further after the announcement from the UK Gambling Commission that a number of operators and crucially now personal licence holders were the latest to feel the force of the regulators enforcement action due to the recurring failures we are seeing time after time.
But Ray Wilson, director of AMLGS, believes that all is not lost and there is still time to regain public confidence and build on the good examples of some operators. “Some operators have made huge progress in terms of AML and social responsibility. However, evidently there is still lots to do.
"One of the common issues that we have seen operators struggle with, especially the larger ones, is that they have a small compliance team of three or four officers trying to manage a customer base of thousands. It is no surprise that so many cases of problem gambling or financial crime are being missed. Operators need to utilise their workforce. This is something we focus our training programmes on.”
What Wilson and the team at AMLGS are trying to encourage is organisation-wide training. He adds: "In most of the operators we deal with they have marketing teams, VIP managers, HR staff and many more. But most of these employees have not been given any training on what to look for when it comes to AML and problem gambling.”
AMLGS delivers its workshops across entire organisations, from the CEO and compliance teams down to the cash desk and customer relations teams. This is because every single one of these employees has the ability to help prevent financial crime and identify signs of problem gambling.
They believe that using each department allows the business more opportunities to spot potential red flags early on and therefore allowing earlier intervention. Something AMLGS also believe in is a phrase it refers to as PCI (pre-crisis intervention). “What this means is, identifying the early signs of problem gambling and AML and properly intervening before the serious effects take place."
During his presentation on AML and social responsibility during SIGMA, Wilson had a message for Europe’s gaming operators. “Empower your business by empowering your staff. Give them the knowledge, the tools and leadership that they need. We can no longer have some sustainable operators in an unstainable sector.”
Operators can no longer take shortcuts. AMLGS is certain that every operator that has received penalties from the regulators would like to turn back time and to have the opportunity to improve rather than receiving a fine and reputation damage. "The industry is lucky to have an organisation such as AMLGS fighting its corner and battling to protect the businesses and its consumers."