Gala Coral Pays £870,000+ for Gaming Control Faux Pas

Gala Coral pays out £800,000.

Gala Coral offers to pay back more than £800,000 after shortcomings in its gaming controls. (Image: skopos.london)

The Gala Coral Group felt the full force of the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) this week following a review of its anti-money laundering controls.

Since it was established in 2005, the UKGC has regulated live bookmakers as well as overseeing the National Lottery. However, since November 2014 it’s also been in charge of licensing and regulating online betting companies that operate in the UK.

Since that time it’s denied the requests of dozens of online betting sites that don’t meet its strict licensing criteria, but it’s also carried out checks on many of the industry’s established operators.

Gala Coral Under the Microscope

The Gala Coral Group was the latest operator to come under scrutiny from the UKGC. Wanting to assess the company’s overall commitment to combating money laundering and social responsibility controls (i.e. stopping customers from staking too much), the UKGC went through data stretching back to 2012.

During the review, representatives for the UKGC found evidence of one punter who wagered more than £800,000 from money he’d stolen from a “vulnerable” adult.

The man, who hasn’t been named, placed hundreds of bets both online and inside a variety of Gala Coral’s betting shops using money he’d conned out of a man.

According to the report published by the UKGC, Gala Coral’s VIP team believed the man was from a wealthy family and worked as electrician. However, following his arrest and subsequent imprisonment, the true source of his income came to light.

The UKGC has stated that Gala Coral failed to conduct proper checks on the man and continued to let him wager large amounts of money despite a red mark being put against his name due to the disparity between his wagers and his income.

Gala Coral admitted its shortcomings in this particular case and agreed to a voluntary settlement and paid back £846,664, plus an additional £30,000 to the UKGC to cover the investigation costs.

LGA Wants £2 FOBTs

In other UK gambling news this week, the Local Government Association (LGA) has once again called for the government to reduce the amount punters can gamble on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs).

At present betting shop and casino customers can stake up to £100 per round, but the LGA insists that a maximum bet between £2 and £5 is necessary.

“Councils up and down the country are worried about the number of high stakes FOBTs and betting shops on our high streets, and are frustrated by the lack of powers they have to curb them,” said Cllr Simon Blackburn, chair of the LGA’s Safer and Stronger Communities Board.

Although the government has been responsive to some ideas raised by anti-gambling organisations, it seems unlikely that it will enforce such as drastic change to the dynamics of FOBTs.

While it might suggest a reduction in the maximum betting limit, a stake of just £2 is unlikely to gain much traction where it counts.

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