Lindar Media, the operator behind the popular online bingo and igaming platform MrQ, has been hit with a substantial regulatory settlement by the UK Gambling Commission (GC) for significant anti-money laundering (AML) and social responsibility breaches. The GC agreed on a hefty fine of £690,947 (€798,643/ $853,793), emphasizing the importance of strict adherence to compliance regulations within the gambling industry.
The regulatory scrutiny of MrQ began following a compliance assessment conducted by the GC last September. The review exposed alarming deficiencies in Lindar Media’s procedures aimed at preventing money laundering and safeguarding players from the harmful effects of gambling.
The Commission identified multiple violations of its Licence Conditions and Codes of Practice (LCCP), including issues ranging from AML inadequacies to lapses in social responsibility. The hefty financial penalty imposed on Lindar Media aimed to address these serious failings and will be invested in supporting socially responsible initiatives.
Frequent regulatory reviews are commonplace and part of ensuring compliance regulations are adhered to. This applies to online casinos offering UK no deposit bonus codes, sportsbooks, B2B companies collaborating with such operators, and any affiliate sites promoting their services, all subject to stringent oversight.
Results Of The Compliance Assessment
The GC’s comprehensive compliance assessment highlighted several critical shortcomings in Lindar Media’s operations. The following is a breakdown of its main inadequacies:
- Lindar Media exhibited weaknesses in implementing AML policies, procedures, and controls.
- The company lacked strong, responsible gambling policies, procedures, controls, and practices, and it failed to report crucial events in a timely manner.
- Lindar’s head of regulatory compliance assumed additional management roles without prior approval from the Gambling Commission.
- The operator did not adhere to socially responsible advertising practices and failed to fulfill its obligations regarding research, prevention, and treatment contributions to organizations assisting individuals harmed by gambling.
Lindar Media’s Reaction
Regarding the regulatory settlement, Lindar Media recognized that the breaches had occurred during a business expansion phase. The company stressed that it has since strengthened its safer gambling policies and compliance procedures.
Savvy Fellas, the CEO of Lindar Media, said that his primary focus since 2022 has revolved around advancing daily operations by developing the senior leadership team. He mentioned implementing scalable processes that ensure consistency during the company’s growth and establishing technology-driven models that support compliance and safer gambling commitments to their players. He noted that all these efforts aligned with their mission of transparently delivering progressive, valuable entertainment.
Failures In Combating Money Laundering And Terrorist Financing
Lindar Media was found to have violated License Condition 12.1.1(1), which requires license holders to evaluate their risk for money laundering and terrorist financing (ML and TF). The company’s assessment did not adequately address customer risk factors, means of payment, or emerging risks.
The Commission also found that Lindar’s ML and TF assessment failed to account for key risk factors, such as customers associated with higher-risk countries or unusual business arrangements.
Lindar also breached License Condition 12.1.1(2), which explains the operator’s responsibility for implementing ML and TF controls. The company’s reliance on financial triggers to identify and manage ML risks was deemed excessive, with financial thresholds for ML considered too high.
MrQ’s Violations Of Social Responsibility Standards
MrQ was also found to have violated License Condition 15.1.1(4), which requires licensees to notify the Commission of key events within five working days. Lindar Media failed to inform the Commission when its head of regulatory compliance left the position in June 2022, resulting in a breach of the license condition.
Furthermore, the company did not comply with Social Responsibility Codes of Practice 3.4.1 (Customer Interaction), failing to identify customers at risk of gambling-related harm and using ineffective financial and safer gambling triggers.
Shortcomings In MrQ’s Advertising Practices
The Commission criticized Lindar Media for allowing its agents to use cartoon imagery in advertisements, which can potentially appeal to children. Although the company removed these ads upon being notified, it still incurred regulatory penalties.
The Gambling Commission has maintained a vigilant stance on regulatory compliance throughout 2023, imposing penalties on several industry operators for various AML and social responsibility breaches. These penalties are a stark reminder of the importance of adhering to stringent regulatory requirements within the gambling sector.