Don’t Look Now, Kindred’s 32Red Carded While Unibets Are Off
Red faces all round at iGaming big beast Kindred Group today as the online operator was slapped with a swingeing £7.1 million sanction (US$8.73m/€8.03m) by the UK’s regulatory Gambling Commission (GC) for major social responsibility and anti-money laundering breaches.
Kindred subsidiaries 32Red Limited and Platinum Gaming Limited, who run Unibet, were fined £4,195,655 and £2,937,599, respectively, by the GC after an investigation which, in the words of Commission Executive Director Kay Roberts:
“Clearly [highlights] that both operators failed to interact with customers in a way which minimises the risk of them experiencing harms associated with gambling.
“Our investigations also showed that policies and procedures were overlooked, both around customer accounts and anti-money laundering practices.
“Ultimately, it is an example which all gambling operators should take notice of to ensure they protect customers at all times.”
32Red and Unibet also received an official warning.
“Kindred accepts that certain systems and processes in place in 2020 and early 2021 were not in line with Commission expectations around affordability,” responded a spokesperson for the Stockholm NASDAQ-listed, Malta-headquartered company.
“We accept the outcome and we also recognise that we need to work even harder to ensure a safe and compliant business,” conceded Kindred Group CEO Henrik Tjärnström, adding:
“Our commitment to reducing gambling harm across our platforms is a key part of our ‘Journey towards Zero’ ambition – and we are redoubling our efforts to ensure we continue that progress.”
Among other breaches, the GC investigation found that 32Red controls were not effective as they failed to identify and protect potential problem gamblers.
For example, one customer was allowed to deposit £43,000 (US$52,900/€48,600) and lose £36,000 (US$44,300/€40,700) within seven days.
Meanwhile, Platinum Gaming, parent of Unibet, “failed to identify and interact with customers who may have been experiencing harms associated with gambling”.
Regarding anti-money laundering errors, 32Red failed to thoroughly implement the measures described by the Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing and Transfer of Funds Regulations, 2017; while Platinum Gaming’s “policies, procedures and controls in relation to AML were not appropriate”.
In further response to the GC sanctions, Kindred affirmed: “We acknowledge and appreciate the Commission’s clear recognition that the Group’s UK operation is in an improved position since the assessment took place and that it remains suitable to hold an operating licence.
“As a result of those actions taken, Kindred recognises that similar cases to those highlighted by the Commission are unlikely to happen today within its new framework.
“Kindred also treats the requirement for an independent audit of its processes as an important opportunity to ensure it obtains maximum reassurance that the business is on the right track.”
Yet as one gambling industry observer told iGamingFuture:
“As we await the outcome of the Gambling Review and reform of our gambling laws, these fines against one of our major players are not a good look.”