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Buzz Group Limited, Britain’s leading retail and online bingo operator, has been given a swingeing £780,000 fine (US$1.03bn/€915,860) by the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) over money laundering and social responsibility failures.
But–while accepting the sanction with good grace–the Nottingham-based company, founded in 1964, has mounted a spirited defence of its business practices going forward.
“The fine from the Gambling Commission relates to legacy issues that have now been addressed,” a Buzz spokesperson told iGaming Future.
“[We] have reviewed and overhauled all our compliance measures and are confident that current policies and processes now meet the standards set.
“Buzz Bingo, moreover, has increased its current and ongoing investment to enhance all its risk and compliance processes to continually improve player protection.”
And Dominic Mansour, Buzz Bingo Chief Operating Officer, Digital, added: “One of Buzz Bingo’s core values has always been to put players first and protect those that are vulnerable.
“Buzz Bingo is fully committed to ensuring it meets the highest standards of compliance across its bizzbingo.com digital platform, including its anti-money laundering and social responsibility obligations.”
The company has also received a formal warning for the failures, which occurred between October 2019 and December 2020.
According to the UKGC probe, Buzz Bingo’s social responsibility oversights included not identifying at-risk players because the firm’s gaming financial triggers were set too high.
One customer, for example, was able to deposit £22,400 in five days without intervention from the operator (US$29,765/€26,301).
Another punter deposited and lost £12,400 during a six-day period (US$16,477/€14,560). But Buzz’s record of interaction with the customer only stated they were: “Coping well [during] COVID-19.”
And there were numerous anti-money laundering (AML) protection failures.
Multiple alerts needed to be activated before a customer AML interaction took place, the commission said in its finding.
One Buzz Bingo player, for instance, was able to hit nine financial alerts before their account was suspended, pending an AML query.
Warned UKGC Executive Director Helen Venn: “As a regulator we expect all operators to effectively implement policies and procedures which make gambling safe and crime-free.
“Every single gambling business should be aware that we do check that these are in place and are being adhered to. If they are not, we will take action.”