Dear readers and subscribers,
Thank you for following my interview series and for sharing these information with your colleagues and partners. If you would like to be featured in an upcoming interview, please send me an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org and I will happily get back to you!
Moving forward, I would like to introduce my latest interviewee, Alex Henderson, who is the current Head of AML at The Ritz Hotel Casino and also a speaker at our upcoming live event/conference in Prague.
Thank you for your time and I hope you will gain vital information needed for your business in regards to AML and AMLD 4.
I would like to thank you for spending time to answer our questions. First I would kindly ask you to shortly introduce yourself.
Alex: I am the current head of AML at one of the UK’s top Mayfair casinos as well as a trainer for the global leader in AML/social responsibility training for gambling operators (AML Gaming Solutions). I have worked for the past 7 years for the National Crime Agency as a financial investigator and within the AML expert witness team as well as within covert operations where I portrayed many roles within counter terrorism, drugs. The most relevant to my current career is that I portrayed the role of an international money launderer.
Would you please speak about the effects of AMLD 4 on the gambling industry in geneneral and in the UK in particular?
Alex: My opinion is that in general the 4th MLD has had little impact for some operators but major impact for many others (if they have made the appropriate changes). The main impact came from the requirement to “know your customers” better which for many land based operators it is not a huge change, as many of them already go a long way to know about their clientele. For many online operators this was a tough change as my opinion is that many operators do the bare minimum when it comes to due diligence. Overall, I think that many operators do not even have measures in place to comply with law from 2002 (proceeds of crime act 2002), so I would not expect those operators to be doing anything to comply with law that has been in place less than 10 months. The reason I say this is because many of the MLRO’s (money laundering reporting officer) or AML managers I speak with know very little about money laundering/financial crime or their roles and responsibilities and the relevant laws and regulations.
You advise large number of organisations with regards to their AML compliance programmes. According to your experience what are the most frequent problems, issues regarding this topic?
Alex: Lack of knowledge is number 1. I am not just referring to the lower level employees but with MLRO’s and AML managers, the level of knowledge sometimes scares me. I have met with MLRO’s who did not know how to input a SAR (Suspicious activity report), some did not know basic money laundering techniques and how to identify them… then these MLRO’s are entrusted to protect the business and oversee staff training, so it is effectively the blind leading the blind. I speak with some businesses who tell me that they are low risk for money laundering or that criminals do not use their business…. When I tell them that I myself have actually laundered money through their business or have spent criminal proceeds through their business they have a sudden change in attitude, which for me is a good thing. Many gambling employees have not been given the basic knowledge for preventing financial crime which is the fault of the operator. I enjoy giving staff this knowledge and empowering them to detect criminality and prevent those criminals using their businesses.
What social responsibilities does preventing money laundering include?
Alex: In many cases, social responsibility and AML go hand in hand. If an operator has good AML processes in place they will often detect problem gambling concerns and vice versa. We have seen in the recent enforcement action that when an operator is punished for their lapses in social responsibility they are also punished for their lapses in AML, this is because operators generally do not do enough to protect their customers. If an operator has done enough to determine a customer’s Source of Wealth (SOW) they should know when that customer is spending more than they can afford. Therefore if that customer is spending outside of their known income, an operator should be doing extra checks to determine if the customer is spending more, because they either have a gambling problem or they are spending more because they also have some illegitimate funds that have not previously been uncovered.
There are new regulations in this domain. Will you please speak about these and their effects?
Alex: Operators are expected to do more, and rightly so. The expectation from the regulator is that both remote and non-remote operators need to step up and start protecting customers. But this is difficult and causes a huge conflict of interest amongst operators; on one hand they are trying to run a profitable business, keep customers gambling and spending money, on the other hand they are expected to stop customer if they gamble too long or spend too much money. The punishment for not protecting customers is too soft in my opinion. The gambling commission should be taking licences and giving hefty fines, at the moment operators get away with doing very little to protect customers. Operators would do a lot more if they genuinely felt their licence was on the line or that they would be fined excessively. If we take the banking industry as an example, it took HSBC getting fined £250m for all the banks to start carrying out adequate AML due diligence, before the HSB fine banks always done the minimum because they knew any fine they received would be worth paying. I think the gambling commission is definitely moving in the right direction but they need to send out a clear message, the way to do that is to start making examples of operators.
What about the UK? Where is it heading with the new regulations?
Alex: I think the gambling commission is going to get tougher and tougher on operators until the operators eventually start looking after their customers. UK operators need to do more, especially online. There is a poor knowledge of AML and even worse knowledge on problem gambling when it comes to online operators. Staff needs to be given proper training so they can protect the businesses and their legitimate customers. I think more regulation will keep coming and will keep getting harder until operators take it upon themselves to start protecting customers.
What do you think what is gaming considered by the people of the UK today; are they satisfied with the new changes?
Alex: Public trust in gambling has drastically decreased; this is because of all the negative media on problem gambling and money laundering. I think the public are happy that the industry is under such scrutiny because financial crime and problem gambling effects so many people. Operators have the power to regain trust from the public and I do think all the changes the commission and the government are trying to make will help to regain public trust once again.
What would you change in the present state of the British gambling market?
Alex: I would make it a requirement for operators and all staff to undertake adequate and relevant training on both AML and problem gambling. Many operators put staff through poor internal courses or e-learning programs which is not good enough. AML Gaming Solutions (AMLGS) are made up of AML experts who have worked for law enforcement, government and regulators. They deliver face to face training to all staff from the ground all the way up to the CEO which is highly important. Every operator should be undertaking training from experts such as AMLGS. It is vital for staff to hear from professionals and to understand what a vital role their play in preventing financial crime and protecting customers
What is your personal opinion about gambling industry in general in Europe?
Alex: I think that the industry is moving in the right direction, the constant updates in law and regulation are a good thing and operators need to embrace the changes. I do believe that from compliance perspective more needs to be done by operators, but we are getting there slowly. The industry is going to continue to grow; it is this growth that has brought the attention of various governments and law enforcements. Five years ago the industry was not on anyone’s radar but now every government in the world has taken an interest. This scrutiny has brought a well-deserved pressure to operators who have for many years failed to prevent financial crime; I think the message is clear: step up and do more or be on the receiving end of some very harsh penalties.
To hear more about the subject and meet Alex in person, make sure you register and attend Prague Gaming Summit 2018, held on the 29th of March at Andel’s by Vienna House Prague.
Alex specialises in preventing money laundering in its varying forms and has a very unique insight that is hard to find.
Alex Henderson is the current Head of AML at The Ritz Hotel Casino, one of the worlds most prestigious casinos. Alex has worked for the National Crime Agency (NCA) as part of the AML expert witness team and has been involved in multiple high end money laundering investigations. As well as having worked for several years as part of the NCA’s AML expert witness team, Alex spent much of his NCA career working as part of the covert operations unit (Undercover operations) portraying many different roles, including the role of a high end money launderer. This unique insight into the mind of a criminal allows financial institutions to see the vulnerabilities and risks from a new angle. Alex advises a large number of organisations with regards to their AML compliance programmes and has lectured extensively in the UK and across Europe.
• Successfully delivered AML training workshops to a large banking group with over 4000 employees
• Advises money service bureaus, banks and regulated businesses on their AML risks
• Operated in a covert capacity in various operations across the UK, portraying the role of a money launderer amongst many others
• Involved in many high profile investigations involving trade based money laundering and sector focused laundering
• Advised leading organisations on the financial crime risks and vulnerabilities impacting their business
• Delivered training to multiple financial institutions and developed staff knowledge of AML across over 100 organisations to date
• Leading the AML team at one of London’s top casinos, handling high risk members and overseeing the due diligence of the business customer database
• Advised a major bank in regards to their AML fine and enforcement action on best practice moving forward
• Involved in various counter terrorism and AML Law Enforcement operations across the UK
Source: European Gaming News
EGT Romania: new promotions for slot machines!
A challenge that EGT Romania has always accepted, both towards customers and other operators, most of them already becoming partners, is to always offer them the opportunity to grow their businesses by choosing the most performing, attractive, interactive, awarded and appreciated products from the gambling industry. So, periodically we make offers as attractive as possible to facilitate the decision to progress of each operator.
Starting with January 2020, EGT Romania offers operators the opportunity to purchase slot machines from both previous generations and the latest models, at extraordinary prices conditions.
VEGA VISION UP, VEGA VISION +UP, VEGA VISION +ST – in 12 or 24 installments without advance payment
The increasingly diverse demands of players develop the need for operators to integrate tailor-made products and services into their gaming halls. AWPs are some of them. Taking this into account, you can now take advantage of the following offer:
- You can purchase cabinets from the Vega Vision range with AWP mixes in 12 or 24 installments, without advance payment.
- You can also purchase Vega Vision cabinets in 12 or 24 installments, without advance payment, if you choose game mixes from the Collection Series range.
!!! In addition, we thought that you might want to convert AWP to Collection Series or vice versa at some point, so we created a minimum cost for you. Therefore, you will benefit of only 999 Euro + VAT per conversion (compared to 1950 Euro + VAT – the basic price).
P-24/24 UP, P-27/27 ST SLIM – 2 months free of charge!
These EGT slot machines, equipped also with AWP game mixes, awarded and appreciated year after year, are still in the top of the preferences of players and operators alike.
The active special offer consists in:
- Enjoy 2 months free of charge when renting P-24/24 Up and / or P-27/27 St Slim with AWP game mix
S32/55 – S-line range – 40 E discount
Presented for the first time in Romania in September 2019, within the EAE, the S32/55 terminal, from the S-line multiplayer range, impresses with the imposing appearance, with a dominant display of 4K resolution, 55 inches.
- You can rent S32/55, during this period, with 40 E discount.
For questions, complete information and additional details, we invite you to contact the EGT Romania sales team at the data available here.
Could UK Government Policy Threaten Online Betting Promos?
Most observers would agree that the UK political class is pursuing a dialogue on the very nature of the gambling industry. The headline issue is, of course, fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBT’s), which have been the focus of a huge campaign. This week the UK Chancellor, Phillip Hammond, announced that the maximum stake in these gaming machines will be cut dramatically starting in October 2019. The move has cross-party support, and even the gambling industry has been vocally supportive, knowing that it at least makes sense from a PR perspective to seem concerned about the issue.
However, FOBT’s are not the only issue being discussed about the industry in the UK, with some changes perhaps having a big impact on punters. Advertising has come under scrutiny recently, with an almost saturated feel to the volume of sports betting adverts played on television during events like Premier League games. Sky, the UK’s dominant figure in sports broadcasting, has agreed to ‘regulate itself’ and limit the number of betting adverts beginning at the start of the 2019 Premier League season.
The move by Sky, while seemingly commendable as they will lose out on a chunk of the estimated £460 million gambling companies spend on advertising in the UK, is also indicative of the fact that the landscape is changing. The Labour Party, in particular, has signalled that they will try to put curbs on many aspects of the industry should they win the next election. For example, Labour deputy leader, Tom Watson, has called for a ban on funding accounts with credit cards and any advertising during live sports events.
However, one area that will be keenly watched by casino players and bettors is that of promotions. Incentives like free bets, price boosts, reload bonuses and the rest are the “carrot” that usually acts as a tipping point to encourage a player to join a new site, but they are certainly not the only reason why people bet. If a Government decides that promotions force people to bet, rather than supplement a decision that has already been made, could they too be in the firing line as the UK authorities try to further regulate the industry?
Free bets offers popular with punters
One would argue that would come to the detriment of the customer, rather than the industry. Consider how a punter might want to bet with William Hill on Real Madrid at 12/1 to win the Champions League, or the Boston Celtics at 7/1 with Bet365 to win the NBA Championships; they could check a list of free bet no deposit 2018 offers and potentially make their bet for free. Is it fair to take away those incentives from the customer?
There is a fine line between the idea of a promotion and the “bet now!” command that is being looked at by the Advertising Standards Agency, but it’s hard to know where that line will be drawn in the future. Punters would be irate to learn that they can’t, for example, go to a bookie and find an incentive like a price boost on the current odds of 12/1 for Chelsea to win the Premier League.
In the end though, money usually settles these matters. While the UK Government has made moves on FOBTs, it was slow-acting because bookmaker shops were keen to point out that those betting terminals equate to jobs. 2017/18 was estimated to have raised £2.8 billion in gaming tax receipts for the UK Exchequer. The Government will be loath to jeopardise that income. The point is: if the bookies can make their case, those promos will be here to stay.
Pragmatic Play roars to life with 5 lions
New release sees ancient spirits guarding amazing riches
15 June 2018: Pragmatic Play, the multi-award-winning games provider, has announced the launch of 5 Lions, a 3×5 video slot steeped in myth and legend.
Chinese iconography lights up the reels of 5 Lions, with turtles, phoenixes and dragons appearing covered in glittering gemstones.
The mystical lions of the game’s title act as the wild symbols, granting the player a random multiplier of up to 40x and springing to life when they appear in any winning line.
Melissa Summerfield, Chief Commercial Officer at Pragmatic Play, said: “Our suite of high quality games continues to go from strength to strength, and 5 Lions is a great addition that we are proud to introduce to our partners and players.
“The game’s mystical air is complemented by an engaging and visually satisfying array of bonus content, and it certainly has the potential to keep players coming back.”
Three gilded yin-yang symbols unlock 5 Lions unique free spins feature, expanding the three central reels to four symbols in height and boosting the potential ways to win from 243 to 576.
Players then have the opportunity to choose between seven lions, offering a wide selection of different multiplier ranges. These options range from six free spins with a range of high multipliers (15x, 30x, or 40x) to 25 free spins with a range of lower multipliers (2x, 3x, or 5x).
Pragmatic Play’s portfolio contains more than 80 proven HTML5 video slots, including Wolf Gold, Chilli Heat and The Champions. These titles are now live with a growing list of leading casino brands, including Mr Green, Betsson and LeoVegas.
For more information on this release or to arrange an interview please contact Tom Lewis at Square in the Air on 020 3586 8257 or email@example.com
About Pragmatic Play
Pragmatic Play is one of the fastest growing providers of slots games in the online gaming industry. It has proven expertise in creating mobile and desktop content that engages modern players. Its expanding portfolio features more than 80 proven HTML5 titles, which support 26 languages and all major currencies, and are built on unique in-house designs.
The provider’s games are attuned to the needs of players and operators in regulated markets all over the world and are now a fixture on many of the leading casino brands.
For more information please visit http://pragmaticplay.com/
Source: European Gaming News
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