Posted by Woods Whur | Gambling, Licensing Law, Woods Whur

In 2016, we held our first Gambling Conference at the iconic Hippodrome Casino, at which we updated delegates on ever-changing legislation and guidance. The event was full and over 120 people attended and contributed both by sharing ideas and questioning those who gave presentations. My opening presentation was called “Changing Times” and referred to 2015 as being a significant year for enforcement action and compliance. I referred to public statements of 13 September 2013, 28 October 2013 and 25 June 2014, as well as further public statements in 2015 and 2016. Those public statements all related to operators not complying with the relevant legislation and guidance, particularly on money laundering and “knowing their customers”. Anna Mathias developed this discussion further with her presentation “Update on Current Developments” and we also heard from Rob Birkett of the Gambling Commission, Kerry Simpkin of Westminster City Council and Sheila Roberts of the London Borough of Newham.

Our second conference will take place at the same venue on 8 May 2018, and our intention is to bring delegates up to date with relevant case studies and analysis of recent guidance. It seems to me to be far more helpful to give a presentation which highlights practical examples and real life scenarios rather than debate any interpretation or wording of recent guidance. We always try, in advising clients in gambling cases, to give pro-active and practical advice, so that the client is put in the best position to make an informed decision on their situation. This applies whether the client is looking to make a new application or requiring advice on a regulatory situation.

It seems clear from the latest William Hill case that compliance with the anti-money laundering regulations, which includes a requirement for the gambling industry to understand their customers and their customers’ financial position, is still the most significant topic for the gambling industry. William Hill were fined a minimum of £6.2million for “systematic social responsibility and money laundering failures”. The recent Gambling Commission Bulletin confirms the seriousness of this matter, saying: “systemic senior management failure to protect customers and prevent money laundering will result in William Hill Group paying a penalty package of at least £6.2 million”.

This is very similar to the case studies we looked at which had been dealt with between 2013 and 2016 and raises significant questions as to the extent to which certain operators have moved on and learned to understand their responsibilities.

Neil McArthur, who is the Executive Director of the Gambling Commission, was quoted in the Gambling Commission Bulletin as confirming: “we will use the full range of our enforcement powers to make gambling fairer and safer…gambling businesses have a responsibility to ensure that they keep crime out of gambling and tackle problem gambling – and as part of that they must be constantly curious about where the money they are taking is coming from”.

The Bulletin gives several examples of William Hill’s failures, including the following:

  • A customer was allowed to deposit £654,000 over nine months without source of funds ever being checked and the customer lived in rented accommodation and was working with a salary of approximately £30,000 per annum;
  • A further customer was allowed to deposit £541,000 over 14 months after the operator made the assumption that a customer’s potential income could be £365,000 per annum based on a verbal conversation.  

We are very much looking forward to welcoming people to our conference on 8 May. We expect to have a wide range of attendees, including those from the industry and local authorities, as well as many operators from the lotteries sector. There will be an opportunity to question those who are giving presentations and to socialise during a coffee and tea break.

I am absolutely delighted to confirm that Erica Young will be attending and speaking on behalf of the Gambling Commission and Philip Kolvin, QC will also be attending to deliver a keynote speech.

If anyone would like further information on the conference or would like to book a place (no charge) then please contact sarah@woodswhur.co.uk.

The event did fill up very quickly last time and the number of spaces is restricted given the size of the conference room.