An official warning and fines by the Gambling Commission on online operators 32Red and Platinum Gaming are “scratching the surface of the problem”, say Christian campaign group, CARE.
Both gambling web operators are part of Kindred Group and were fined £7.1 million for social responsibility and anti-money laundering failures, according to the Gambling Commission.
32 Red Limited, which runs 32red.com, will pay £4,195,655 and Platinum Gaming Limited, which runs unibet.co.uk, will pay £2,937,599.
“The behaviour of betting companies handed fines is disgraceful, and the latest reminder that UK regulation of big betting is unfit for purpose,“ commented James Mildred, Communications Director of Westminster-based group, CARE.
“British punters are being preyed upon by a predatory industry that is callous to the suffering people experience because of its products”, he added.
Both online platforms have also received an official warning following the Gambling Commission investigation.
32Red's social responsibility failures included not having effective enough controls to identify and protect potential problem gamblers and failing to identify customers at risk of harm based on their session times.
James Mildred continued:
“We know gambling is responsible for more than one suicide every single day, and endemic health and financial harms that devastate communities. Yet companies continue to bombard the most vulnerable with ads, saturate and dominate sport, and rake in record profits.”
According to the Gambling Commission, one customer was allowed to deposit £43,000 and lose £36,000 within seven days.
The Commission said some self-excluded or blocked customers were able to register on Platinum Gaming after being blocked or self-excluded on the 32Red platform, and Platinum Gaming also failed to identify and interact with customers who may have been experiencing harm.
“This is one of the moral crises of our time”, commented James Mildred, “and something that the UK Government cannot afford to prevaricate on any longer. Campaigners and grieving families demand tough action to make big betting accountable and put people before profits.”
Kindred Group chief executive Henrik Tjarnstrom responded to the Commission findings and fines:
"While we accept the outcome, and the acknowledgment 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.”
CARE have a campaign to tighten government regulation. Mildred explained:
"We call on the government to bring forward its long-awaited whitepaper, and for this to include a range of robust measures. CARE supports a statutory levy to fund gambling treatment education and research, restrictions on betting ads, and other moves to protect children.”
“Any reforms must also ensure we have a Gambling Commission with real teeth that continue to hold gambling firms’ feet to the fire.”