In a recent development, the United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC) has reached a regulatory settlement with online bingo and iGaming operator, MrQ, owned by Lindar Media. The settlement of £690,947, comes in the wake of breaches related to anti-money laundering (AML) and social responsibility.The scrutiny of MrQ began after a compliance assessment was conducted by the UKGC in September 2022. The review unveiled several shortcomings in MrQ’s processes, particularly concerning money laundering prevention and safeguarding players from potential gambling-related harm. Lindar Media was found to have violated multiple Licence Conditions and Codes of Practice (LCCP), ranging from AML lapses to social responsibility oversights.
Specific Failings Highlighted
The Commission’s assessment pinpointed several areas of concern:AML Policies – Lindar Media’s AML policies, procedures, and controls were found lacking. The company’s practice of automatically assigning a “low” ML risk to new customers was criticised, as there was insufficient data to make such a determination. The financial thresholds set for ML were deemed too high, allowing customers to deposit and lose substantial amounts without triggering alerts.Social Responsibility – MrQ was found to have breached its obligations to interact with customers in a manner that minimises gambling-related harm. The company’s financial and safer gambling triggers were not always effective, especially for high-velocity depositors. The reliance on County Court judgements and bankruptcy data for assessing personal circumstances was also deemed ineffective.Advertising Lapses – Lindar Media came under fire for allowing its agents to use cartoon imagery in advertisements, which could appeal to children. Characters like Spiderman, King Kong, and Piggy Bank Bills were used in the ads. However, once Lindar became aware of the issue, corrective action was taken to remove the ads.
Lindar Media’s Response
In response to the regulatory settlement, Lindar Media acknowledged the breaches, attributing them to a period of rapid business growth. The company has since made strides in enhancing its safer gambling policies. Lindar Media’s CEO, Savvas Fellas, emphasised the company’s commitment to compliance and safer gambling, stating, “We’ve implemented scalable processes that provide consistency as we grow and built technology-driven models that underpin compliance and safer gambling promises to our players.”
A Year of Regulatory Actions
The Gambling Commission has been proactive in its regulatory actions throughout 2023. Earlier in the year, penalties were imposed on SkillOnNet and Kindred for AML and social responsibility breaches, amounting to £305,150 and £7.1m, respectively. William Hill also faced a significant penalty of £19.2m for a series of violations.