Following a £7.1m fine and an official warning against two of its UK businesses this morning, Kindred Group has placed confidence in its existing raft of sustainability measures.
Issuing a response to the £4.2m and £2.9m penalties issued to 32Red and Platinum Gaming this morning by the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC), the betting group asserts that the failures responsible are ‘unlikely to happen again’.
Kindred acknowledged that ‘certain systems and processes’ in place in 2020 and early 2021 did not meet the Commission’s social responsibility – particularly affordability – anti-money laundering standards.
However, the group added that in the years since the infractions took place, it has established itself in an ‘improved place’, having enacted a number of safer betting measures and initiated its ‘journey to zero’ target.
Henrik Tjärnström, Kindred Group CEO, said: “While we accept the outcome and the acknowledgement that we have already taken significant steps to strengthen our processes, we also recognise that we need to work even harder to ensure a safe and compliant business.”
Kindred also stated that the UKGC’s decision to require an independent audit of its processes is an ‘important opportunity’ to gain reassurance that it is on the right track regarding social responsibility.
The fines against its businesses came just one week after Kindred published its Annual Sustainability Report for 2022, which outlined responsible gaming, a secure platform, product integrity and responsible business as four key areas of focus.
Having set itself the ambitious target of achieving net zero revenue from harmful gambling by 2023, Kindred has been able to cut down the percentage of revenue from these sources, although some steps back did occur last year.
According to its last update, the rates of revenue from problem gambling stood at 3.3% in Q4 2022, a return to form after the figure rose to 3.8% in Q3, having stood at 3.3% for the previous two quarters.
In the UK specifically, there has been a 57% reduction in income from ‘high-risk players’, and 50% of its British customers are using ‘at least one’ of its responsible gaming tools.
Detailing the measures undertaken since the 2020 and 2021 infractions, Kindred explained that it had implemented ‘full registration blocks’ for any players showing signs of financial pressure and has initiated tailored deposit limits for all customers, with a ‘bespoke approach’ to under-25s.
Additionally, Unibet – operated by Platinum Gaming – and 32Red customers have set voluntary stake limits on certain products based on a risk profile, and on a wider scale Kindred plans to roll out automated interventions for rapid reaction to any signs of problem gambling.
Looking ahead, the group stated that it is planning to continue working on social responsibility and gambling harm reduction with relevant stakeholders, and asserts that due to the measures listed above, the failings that led to today’s £7.1m fine are unlikely to reoccur.
“We appreciate the Commission’s clear recognition that our operations are in an improving position and that we remain fit to hold an operating licence,” Tjärnström concluded.
“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.”
The fine against Kindred is the latest in a series of enforcement actions undertaken by the Commission, and against the backdrop of the Gambling Act review White Paper publication, due at some point this year.
During the latter stages of the review, the UKGC has been perceived by some betting stakeholders to have been taking a more hardline approach to affordability, with affordability checks apparently an almost-guaranteed outcome of the review.