ComeOn Is Another Operator to Leave UK Online Gambling Market
September 5th, 2019 11.00am
As gambling regulations in the UK become stricter, more and more operators are set to leave the market. The last one that has announced to withdraw from the UK is the Malta-based online casino ComeOn. Earlier this year, some of the most popular UK online casinos were hit with 7-figure fines for failing to protect vulnerable customers and prevent money laundering.
Focusing on More Fabourable Markets
Another online gambling operator, ComeOn, has announced to leave the UK online gambling market. After 5 years of providing their services in the UK, the gambling company is ready to pull their three brands licensed by the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) and “focus on more favourable markets.” Besides ComeOn, the company runs Mobile Bet and Get Lucky.
One of the main reasons for such a move is the tightening regulatory situation in the UK.
“The UK is a very mature and highly competitive market and the financial risks are big. We have never had a non-compliance breach, but we’ve seen competitors being fined big numbers and that creates uncertainty,” said Lahcene Merzoug, CEO of ComeOn.
The operator is ready to switch its attention to other regulated markets such as Sweden, Denmark, Malta, Poland and Schleswig-Holstein in Germany. Merzoug said that they held licences in many European countries and that at the same time the UK licence had lost its symbolic value.
“Given that the UK has never been a big market for us, it’s a wise move to put our focus elsewhere,” added he.
JPJ Group-owned brands Vera&John and InterCasino ceased their operations in the UK market on 3 September. One of the biggest bookmakers in the UK, Ladbrokes, has also announced that they will close around 1,000 shops in this country. Such a decision was made after the UKGC introduced new regulations including the one that limits the maximum stakes placed on FOBTs to 2 GBP as opposed to 100 GBP, which was a maximum before. William Hill has also announced to shut down about 700 shops, which will put 4,500 jobs at risk.
Operators Facing 7-Figure Fines
Earlier this year, the UK media reported that some of the most successful online gambling operators would have to pay millions in fines. One of the biggest bookmakers Ladbrokes Coral will have to pay a £5.9m fine after the UKGC identified that the operator had failed to protect a vulnerable customer and prevent money laundering.
According to the regulator’s findings, the operator allowed one customer to spend £1.5m without asking them to prove the source of the money. In addition, they did not make any social responsibility checks despite the fact that there were signs that the customer had a gambling problem.
Another operator facing a fine is 32Red that will have to pay £2m for failing to protect a problem gambler and encouraging further play by granting them VIP status. The UKGC registered more than 20 incidents that should have raised red flags. The customer deposited £758,000 between 2014 and 2017 and the operator did not provide them with help nor conducted money laundering checks.
Commenting on this case, the UKGC stated that instead of checking on the welfare of a customer displaying problem gambling behaviour, 32Red had encouraged the customer to gamble more.
The Malta-based online casino owned by the Swedish company Kindred accepted the penalty. They added that they had implemented a behaviour-monitoring system.
One of the main concerns of decision-makers at gambling businesses should be investing in the welfare of their customers and the integrity of money being gambled with, according to the UKGC. It is obvious that the authority will not tolerate systemic failings any more, which is seen as a red flag for many UK-facing operators.
ComeOn Withdraws from the UK Market