Vivaro Limited Fined by the Gambling Commission
It has been announced that betting operator Vivaro Limited will face a regulatory enforcement fine by the UK Gambling Commission. Vivaro Limited, known by its trading name vbet, will pay £337,631 following a settlement in which the company admitted several mistakes in its operations that led to breach of UK gambling regulations.
The settlement is the final step in the regulation enforcement process, the core of which featured an investigation into the way Vivaro Limited operated with regards to its safe gambling practices and anti-money laundering processes. According to the investigation and the subsequent findings published by the UK Gambling Commission, the Vivaro Limited did not comply with some of the UK’s License Conditions and Codes of Practices between October 2020 and June 2021. The company could also do better in terms of its anti-money laundering policies, controls, and procedures, and improvements were also required in relation to its responsible gambling practices and policies.
Some specific areas requiring improvement were pointed out by the Gambling Commission. These included instances where bettors were able to deposit large amounts before being subjected to KYC checks (Know Your Customer). Furthermore, the processes with regards to the company’s Source of Funds (SOF) verifications were not clearly defined and there was lack of guidance for staff in relation to the checks that were required and the supporting documentation involved. Another example given was in relation to the company’s anti-money laundering trigger levels – according to the Gambling Commission, these were too high in relation to the average spend by customer, and this resulted in ineffective management when it came to Money Laundering.
The Gambling Commission reviewed some customers’ accounts during their investigation in way of compliance assessment, and concluded that in some cases, the anti-money laundering checks applied to the accounts did not establish the source of the funds used for the deposits in an effective way. It suggested that the bank statements of the customers were not subjected to the right level of scrutiny in relation to other income, and the focus was instead on their winnings from other betting sources. According to the review, one account managed to deposit almost £15,000 in two months, and the source of funds had not been established.
On the basis of these checks, the Gambling Commission suggested that Vivaro did complete some verifications, however these were not enough unless the customers had met the company’s threshold for anti-money laundering processes, which, according to the Commission, was “very high AML threshold”. The Commission further suggested that there appeared to be over-reliance on Vivaro’s part in relation to the net gambling position of the customer.
A concern was raised by the commission in relation to another customer account, which, in the response to the source of funds request, had provided a bank statement showing over £270,000, and had claimed that this money was winnings from another betting website. According to the Commission, Vivaro could have done more with regards to the risk associated with “recycled winnings”, which could in fact be funds obtained through criminal activities. The Commission suggested that additional checks could have better established the source of the funds.
Finally, one customer was found to have deposited funds originating from cryptocurrency, and such sources are considered as high risk in relation to money laundering, and should be investigated further. According to the Commission, Vivaro could have done more to investigate the risk associated with such a deposit.
The payment of £337,631 that Vivaro Limited will make as a compensation will be used for socially responsible causes. £302,500 will be donated to the National Responsible Gaming Strategy projects. The funds will be used to carry out important research and intervention in relation to harmful gambling and the risk associated with it. £15,606 of the funds will be used to pay the expenses associated with the investigation of the Gambling Commission into the company’s operations and processes.
It is worth noting that Vivaro Limited has cooperated with the investigation throughout, and the examples provided above are extreme cases when steps were taken to comply with the regulations, however the level of action was not enough and could have been improved. Regardless of this, vbet is still a popular sports betting provider in the United Kingdom and offers excellent promotions, features, betting markets, and customer satisfaction. Through accepting the settlement and the fine, the bookmaker has admitted that there is room for improvement and will be sure to implement the changes discussed by the Gambling Commission in order to perform better in the future.