Buzz Bingo fined £780,000 for AML and social responsibility failings
Bingo Buzz must pay a £780,000 fine after a UK Gambling Commission investigation revealed social responsibility and money laundering failures.
Buzz Group Ltd which operates buzzbingo.com has also received a formal warning for the failures which occurred between October 2019 and December 2020.
Social responsibility failures included:financial triggers not sufficiently identifying at-risk players as they were set too high. One customer was able to deposit £22,400 in five days without the operator conducting a meaningful interaction within that period.
Systems not sufficiently identifying at-risk players. Two customers won large amounts of money gambling, yet the operator failed to consider the increased risk of gambling harm to those customers despite the customers displaying high levels of spend
Not carrying out effective customer interactions with customers who gambled aggressively over short periods of time. One customer deposited and lost £12,400 during a six-day period but the operator’s only record of a customer interaction simply stated customer was ‘coping well in COVID-19’once a decision to interact with a customer had been made staff did not always sufficiently follow the requirement of the operator’s own customer interaction procedure to check the customer was comfortable with their gambling levels, if they felt in control, and then discuss responsible gambling tools and support resources.
Anti-money laundering failures included:triggers prompting source of funds (SOF) checks being over reliant on open source or anecdotal information such as staff relying heavily on assurances provided verbally by customers during interactions
In one instance the operator placed reliance on a large customer win as the SOF for the customer’s future gambling spend without considering that it might not be recycled winnings and that it may be the proceeds of crime
Multiple alerts needed to be activated before a customer AML interaction took place. One customer was able to hit nine financial alerts before their account was suspended pending an AML interaction. The operator keeping insufficient records of AML interactions with customers and it was often not clear what had been discussed during those interactions.
The case against Buzz Group Ltd, like other recent enforcement action, was the result of planned compliance activity.
Helen Venn, Commission Executive Director, said: “As a regulator we expect all operators to effectively implement policies and procedures which make gambling safe and crime-free. Every single gambling business should be aware that we do check that these are in place and are being adhered to. If they are not, we will take action.”