Smarkets ‘fully accepts’ £630k Gambling Commission penalty

The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has handed out its latest penalty for social responsibility and anti-money laundering breaches, charging online operator Smarkets.

A penalty of £630,000 was dealt to the Malta-based firm, which operates the SBK sportsbook, for failing to carry out ‘adequate’ source of funds checks as well as identifying or interacting with at-risk customers. 

Of significance to the regulator, one particular customer deposited £395,000 over four months without appropriate source of funds checks conducted, whilst another bettor transferred ‘significant levels of funds’ between accounts without investigation.

Jason Trost, Smarkets CEO and Founder, stated that the company would ‘fully accept’ the UKGC’s investigation in its ‘former procedures’, and would continue to work with the regulator moving forward. 

“We have worked cooperatively with the Commission throughout the process and taken significant measures to implement their recommendations, investing substantially in our compliance function,” Trost continued.

“We take our responsibility to have appropriate compliance policies in place extremely seriously. We will continue to work closely with the UKGC and other relevant stakeholders, and will take proactive steps in order to ensure further improvement to our procedures on an ongoing basis.”

In addition to the financial penalty, Smarkets has also been handed a formal warning and will undergo an audit to ensure its anti-money laundering and social responsibility policies, procedures and controls are being effectively implemented.

The development follows several other UKGC enforcement actions, including a £1.32m penalty against LeoVegas earlier this month, a £9.4m fine against 888Holdings in June and a £1.17m charge against Sky Bet in March for a major promotional error. 

Sarah Gardner, Commission Deputy CEO, said: “This case was identified through compliance checks and once again highlights how we will take action against gambling operators who fail their customers.

“Our investigation into Smarkets unearthed a variety of failures where customers were put at risk of gambling harm. It was obvious that poor systems and processes were in place which contributed to these breaches, driven by the company’s failure to effectively implement its policies and controls.”

Speaking at the Westminster Media Forum Gambling Regulation Conference in June, UKGC CEO Andrew Rhodes asserted that there were ‘far too many examples’ of both operators – both large and small – failing to meet licensing standards.

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