UK gambling regulators have suspended the license of another of its online operators for compliance failures, the third such action this year.
On Thursday, the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) announced the interim suspension of the online betting license of Stakers Ltd “with immediate effect.” The UKGC has commenced a review of the company, which operates via the Stakers.com domain, due to a “a number of compliance issues.”
The UKGC said it suspects that Stakers breached a condition of its license under section 116(2)(a) of the Gambling Act, which allows the UKGC to review the operations of any licensee the regulator suspects of being unsuitable to carry on the activities permitted under its license.
The UKGC said it has instructed Stakers to allow its UK customers to access their accounts to withdraw any funds held therein, but these customers must be advised “not to place any bets through the Stakers website.”
While it’s now illegal for Stakers to offer gambling services to UK-based customers, the company also holds a license issued by the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA), so its operations outside the UK appear unaffected. The company’s website lists a Malta address as its base of operations.
This has been a busy year for the UKGC’s regulatory truncheon, as Stakers is the third online licensee to have its wings clipped in only three weeks. Last month, sports betting exchange Matchbook’s parent company Triplebet Ltd was ordered to ‘temporarily’ suspend its UK-facing operations for as yet unclear reasons.
About a week after that, the UKGC suspended the license of Addison Global Ltd following a similar move by Gibraltar’s Gambling Licensing Authority due to insolvency issues. Addison’s Moplay site has been inaccessible ever since and the latest word is that Addison is flogging the site’s player database in the hope of raising some quick cash with which to pay its bills (including player account balances).
The UKGC’s actions couldn’t come at a worse time, given that the UK’s All Party Parliamentary Group on Gambling Related Harm recently declared the regulator as “unfit for purpose” due to its alleged coziness with its licensees.
Last month, the UK’s National Audit Office issued a report that said there were “gaps in the Commission’s intelligence base” and the regulator was “not doing as much as it could to incentivize operators to raise standards and make gambling safer.” The NAO also felt the UKGC lacks “a full understanding of the impact of its work or whether it is achieving its overall objectives to protect consumers.”
The UKGC has stepped up its enforcement efforts in recent years, including a £3m penalty on online casino operator Mr Green last week for “systemic failings” in social responsibility and anti-money laundering controls.