UKGC Fines In Touch Games £3.4M

The Gambling Commission has taken regulatory action against online casino operator In Touch Games Ltd. The announcement comes in response to failings uncovered by the regulator after it investigated the gambling business’s operations. In Touch Games Ltd has received an official warning and has been asked to pay £3.4 million.

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In Touch Games is the latest operator to be penalized with a hefty fine from the regulator this year.©Pixabay/Pexels

Mandatory Audit

The Gambling Commission is responsible for regulating all gambling operations in the UK. That includes casinos, bookmakers and online operators like In Touch Games Ltd. This particular operator has found its niche in offering online casinos that consumers can access at home and on mobile devices. However, In Touch Games has now found itself on the wrong side of the law.

In a press release published to the Gambling Commission’s website, the regulator revealed the extent of the operator’s failings. In Touch Games must now undergo an auditing process, after the regulator found evidence of money laundering, social responsibility and marketing failings. On top of this, the company has been issued with a serious warning and will be made to pay a £3.4 million fine.

Some consumers may be familiar with In Touch Games through its popular online casino brands. The parent company runs brands including mFortune, PocketWin, Mr Spin, Dr Slot and Cashmo. Many of its sites have been created exclusively for mobile play, while others can also be accessed through almost any web browser.

The Gambling Commission has imposed a new license condition on In Touch Games, whereby it must employ a firm of independent auditors to audit the company. This must be in compliance with the regulator’s official License Conditions and Codes of Practice. The LCCP sets out all of the requirements that firms must adhere to in order to keep their operating licenses.

The audit will come at the expense of the operator itself. Richard Watson, Executive Director of the Gambling Commission, explained the importance of ensuring that operators stick to industry regulations. According to Watson:

“Through our challenging compliance and enforcement activity we will continue our work to raise standards in the industry and continue to hold failing operators to account.”

Failings Uncovered

The Gambling Commission detailed the operator’s social responsibility failings. These included stating in its Responsible Gambling Team interaction guidance that a bonus could be offered to customers on providing identification. The regulator found instances of seven customers that displayed indicators of problem gambling. However, these customers weren’t interacted with effectively according to the correct policies and procedures.

In the cases of these seven customers, it was also found that the operator had failed to make use of all relevant sources of information. As such, it was unable to make effective decisions to help these customers. Had In Touch Games followed its own policies for these customers, it would have considered placing compulsory limits on their accounts.

A significant number of anti-money laundering failings were also found. The company’s risk assessment failed to acknowledge the risk of letting customers use a payment provider that also allows crypto-currencies to be exchanged. The operator’s Enhanced Customer Due Diligence measures were lacking, and it failed to review customers Source of Funds checks adequately.

Finally, the regulator outlined the operator’s marketing shortcomings. It was established that In Touch Games had failed to ensure that its terms and practices were fair and transparent. In one instance, a marketing SMS text neglected to include minimum and maximum deposits in the terms of an offer. Another SMS text failed to state the time limit during which customers could claim an advertised bonus.

Hefty Fine

In Touch Games first launched in 2001 as a producer of slot machines and jukeboxes. In 2006 the operator moved into online gaming and the rest is history. It went on to develop mobile gaming software for a sector that has continued to grow massively. Across four of its mobile gaming brands, the operator now employs more than 400 staff.

Via its unique platforms, In Touch Games is able to offer 130 games, which are played by 80,000 slots fans every day. In 2012 the company’s successes were recognized, as it won “Product of the Year” at the prestigious EGR Operator Awards. The same year, In Touch Games was also named “Best Bingo Operator” and “Best Poker Operator” at the mGaming Awards.

The company has since gone on to win more awards, being named “Digital Business of the Year” at the 2018 Midlands Tech awards. In 2019, the operator also won “Best Slots Site” for mFortune and “Best New Slots Site” for Dr Slot at the WhichBingo Awards. With success has come rapid expansion, but that may have come at a hefty cost.

There is more pressure than ever on the industry to raise standards of customer care and protect against problem gambling. With the government’s review of the 2005 Gambling Act well underway and calls from MPs and campaigners for steep curbs on the industry, the regulator will be keen to ensure that all operators are above board.

Where the full sum of the £3.4 million fine will be directed is not yet clear, although it is likely that a portion will go towards funding the National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms. Set up by the Gambling Commission, this three-year strategy aims to make gambling safer for consumers in the UK.

This year, the Gambling Commission has already issued another substantial fine, to White Hat Gaming. The online casino and bingo operator was slapped with a £1.3 million fine and told to improve its social responsibility and money laundering procedures. Last year, Caesars Entertainment broke records when it was forced to pay a fine of £13 million.

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