UKGC Issues £780,000 Fine to Buzz Bingo Operator for Numerous Failings

  • The UKGC outlined various AML and social responsibility failings by Buzz Bingo’s online platform
  • These issues took place between October 2019 and December 2020 under previous management
  • Buzz Group failed to properly identify at-risk gamblers and issues with customer interactions
  • The UKGC also found failings with source of funds checks and AML customer interaction systems
Buzz Bingo retail facility
Buzz Bingo’s online platform operator has received a £780,000 ($1.04m) fine from the UKGC due to numerous failings. [Image:]

A hefty fine for Buzz

The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has handed out a £780,000 ($1.04m) fine to Buzz Group due to anti-money laundering (AML) and social responsibility failings.

The UKGC announced the fine on Thursday. It relates to failures between October 2019 and December 2020. Buzz Group has also received a formal warning from the gambling regulator over the issues. The UKGC launched its case against Buzz Group following planned compliance activity.

the operator has since overhauled all of its compliance measures

Buzz Bingo chief operating officer of digital Dominic Mansour has confirmed that the failures relate to legacy issues and that the operator has since overhauled all of its compliance measures. He added that “Buzz Bingo has increased its current and ongoing investment to enhance all its risk and compliance processes to continually improve player protection.”

UKGC executive director Helen Venn said: “As a regulator we expect all operators to effectively implement policies and procedures which make gambling safe and crime-free.” She also noted that all gambling businesses should be aware that the UKGC makes sure such measures are in place, taking action if necessary.

Social responsibility failings

In a Wednesday statement on its website, the UKGC outlined numerous social responsibility and AML failures from Buzz Group. Despite this, the regulator noted that Buzz Group was fully cooperative during the investigation and has since taken corrective steps to address the various failings.

Caledonia Investments owned Buzz Bingo when the failures took place. Intermediate Capital Group later acquired a majority stake in Buzz Bingo in March 2021 for an undisclosed sum.

According to the UKGC, Buzz Group set its financial triggers too high to properly identify at-risk gamblers. It also deemed the operator’s overall systems of identifying at-risk gamblers insufficient. Buzz Group also failed to carry out proper customer interactions with gamblers who had aggressively gambled over short time periods. This includes one case where a customer deposited and gambled away £12,400 ($16,571) over the course of six days.

Finally, in cases requiring interaction with customers due to social responsibility concerns, staff failed to properly follow Buzz Group’s procedures. These measures aim to ensure that the gamblers are okay with their current levels of gambling, as well as communicating the various support resources and responsible gambling tools available.

Insufficient AML procedures

The investigation also discovered a number of AML failings. Buzz Group’s trigger for beginning a source of funds check relied too much on anecdotal or open-source information. This included a reliance on verbal assurances customers made during interactions.

a customer triggered nine financial alerts

Users also had to trigger too many alerts before the beginning of an AML interaction. In one instance, a customer triggered nine financial alerts before Buzz Group suspended their account. Finally, the UKGC found that Buzz Group did not keep proper records of its AML customer interactions.

The news of this fine comes just a week after the UKGC criticized licensees for their insufficient social responsibility and AML checks. UKGC chief executive Andrew Rhodes said that it appears some operators see financial penalties as a “compliance tax”.

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