Commission’s hardline approach continues with £442k TonyBet penalty

Commission’s hardline approach continues with £442k TonyBet penalty

The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has hit out again this week, issuing a warning and financial penalty to operator TonyBet, again citing money laundering and social responsibility shortcomings.

Estonia-based online sportsbook TonyBet was also criticised in one other area, however, for failing to have ‘fair and transparent terms’ on its website, and for all three failings has been handed a financial penalty of £442,750.

The company will also have additional requirements added to its licence, and must undergo a third-party audit to assess whether it is meeting anti-money laundering (AML) and social responsibility standards.

Kay Roberts, UKGC Executive Director of Operations, said: “Not only does this case illustrate our drive to clamp down on anti-money laundering and social responsibility failures, but also highlights action we will take against gambling businesses who fail to be fair and open with customers.”

In its assessment, the Commission did note that TonyBet had initiated an ‘ongoing improvements programme’ and had cooperated with the regulator throughout its investigation.

Breaking down specific compliance failures, the terms on TonyBet’s website that caught the UKGC’s attention were that winnings could be confiscated if customers failed to provide AML documentation within 30 days. 

The firm would also request identification documents for ‘all withdrawals’ despite not insisting on checks earlier in the customer journey – this had the impact of ‘potentially hampering withdrawals but not deposits’, the Commission asserted.

Lastly, accounts would be classed as dormant after six months of inactivity, but according to the UKGC’s standards a minimum waiting period of 12 months inactivity is required. All three terms were considered unfair by the regulator. 

On AML, TonyBet was judged to have failed to carry out adequate risk assessments of any funds which could have been used for criminal activity or terrorist financing and lacking policies, procedures and controls to prevent this. 

Although the Commission has not stated that any evidence was found of criminal funds passing through TonyBet’s business, the lack of process and risk assessments was deemed enough for an enforcement action.

Finally, the Commission assessed that TonyBet had failed to meet social responsibility standards such as identifying at-risk customers and conducting interactions of customers who may have been experiencing gambling related harm.

The announcement comes just one day after the UKGC issued a regulatory settlement in lieu of a penalty against Vivaro, and is indicative of a continuing strict approach to non-compliant operators into 2023.

SBC News Commission’s hardline approach continues with £442k TonyBet penalty

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