Online gambling firm fined nearly £500,000 for only checking winners’ credentials

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An online bookmaker has been fined £442,750 for requesting identification from winning punters before placing the money and not performing similar checks on potentially vulnerable people making deposits.

The Gambling Commission penalized TonyBet, which is based in Estonia but licensed to operate in the United Kingdom, for applying unfair terms and failing to take anti-money laundering and social responsibility measures.

The online casino told customers it had the right to require identification documents for “all withdrawals” despite not insisting on the same checks before, potentially blocking withdrawals but not deposits.

Kay Roberts, Executive Director of Gambling Commission Operations, said: “This case not only demonstrates our efforts to prevent money laundering and social responsibility failures, but also highlights the action we will take against failed gambling businesses by being fair and open with customers.”

The fine highlights a practice that rarely gets the attention of regulators. Gamblers have often claimed that strict checks are only requested from customers when they win, and that there is no equivalent review of whether they have suffered financial or mental harm.

The government is expected to publish a white paper on gambling reform, which could include much stricter requirements for operators to conduct affordability checks after a series of lawsuits in which addicted gamblers lost large sums.

Industry lobbyists such as the Betting and Gambling Council (BGC) have repeatedly opposed the possibility of any measures that could be “intrusive”.

Related: Bet365 boss Denise Coates received more than £260m a year through March

TonyBet will pay a fine of £442,750 after violations were discovered during an audit in 2021. The non-BGC company is an Estonia-based online casino that was carved out of a business founded by the Lithuanian businessman and professional. Gambler Antanas Guoga, known in the gambling world as Tony G. It has nothing to do with this business anymore.

TonyBet also said that if they don’t provide anti-money laundering documents to winning punters within 30 days, their cash could be confiscated. While the business required winners to pass such barriers to collect, the commission found that the business failed to assess adequately the risk that it was used for money laundering and terrorist financing or implemented controls to stop such activities.

Nick Goff, a professional sports bettor and former industry professional, said: “The time has passed for companies to be penalized for this practice. It has been happening routinely in many companies for several years.”

The Guardian turned to TonyBet and Guoga for comment.

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