Regulatory action

William Hill's Mr Green fails appeal over AML, compliance sanctions; Swedish court upholds $3M fine

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Sweden’s Administrative Court in Linköping has dismissed an appeal by William Hill’s online gambling subsidiary Mr Green over AML and compliance failures. The company had been issued two separate warnings and penalty fees totaling SEK 31.5 million ($3.1 million) last year for violations of Sweden’s Money Laundering Act and certain sections of the Gambling Act.

In a statement, the Spelinspektionen (Swedish Gambling Authority) said the appeal is to be rejected “in its entirety,” Payment Expert reports. It further announced the court found that Mr Green has had “a lack of routines regarding the risks of money laundering” and has “violated the Money Laundering Act’s rules on customer knowledge.”

“The court further considers that Mr Green has not fulfilled his obligations under the duty of care,” the SGA report also says. The company was first handed a SEK 30 million fine after the regulator found the gambling platform to be in breach of its Gambling Act due to multiple compliance and customer care failures.

Afterward, Mr Green was fined an additional SEK 1.5 million for failing to maintain customer reporting duties, a requirement of the country’s AML act. The Swedish regulator also found that between January 1, 2019, to June 1, 2020, the company did not undertake “sufficient measures to help customers reduce their gambling spend.”

In addition to the penalty fees amounting to SEK 31.5 million, a warning was also issued, both considered to be proportionate measures by the court. Other failures included a report in August 2021 that Mr Green had failed in its work with customer knowledge and had not taken necessary measures to assess the risk of the business being used for money laundering.

In its investigation, the SGA launched a review of Mr Green’s AML measures and looked at customer accounts. In one case, a user made deposits totaling SEK 39.3 million, despite having declared income that barely covered the year’s losses. When said customer ceased playing, Mr Green did not take any further action to investigate potential money laundering.

In other instances, the Spelinspektionen noticed insufficient contact with customers with high deposit limits -over SEK 10,000- to ensure they were gambling with their own funds and in a responsible manner. A number of customers lost amounts that were more than three times their annual income, including a user who lost six times their income within a year.

Mr Green is an online gambling company that offers online casino, sportsbook, live casino, bingo and keno. It is regulated by the MGA in Malta, and also holds gaming licenses in other jurisdictions, including UK, Italy and Sweden. The brand was acquired by industry heavyweight William Hill in a cash offer of £242 million ($302 million) in January 2019.

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