The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) announced this week it has suspended the license of Lotteries.com parent International Multi-Media Entertainments Ltd (IMME) over unspecified concerns about anti-money laundering (AML) and social responsibility violations.
The commission said it had instructed Malta-based IMME to ensure that UK customers are able to access and withdraw funds, adding that it remained in contact with the operator regarding the “need for clear and updated messaging for customers.”
Lotteries.com is a “secondary lottery” platform, which allows customers to “take a bet” on the outcome of major lottery draws from around the world without participating in them physically.
Tickets typically cost slightly less to buy than the “real” lottery tickets. But jackpot winners still receive the same prize money as those that participate in the actual lottery.
Secondary lotteries use a combination of hedging and insurance to make this possible.
In the UK, secondary lotteries are prohibited from offering mirrored versions of domestic lotteries over fears that they might damage ticket sales, denting revenues that go to good causes.
IMME also operates thelotterycentre.com, although this site is not affected by the license suspension as it does not engage the UK market.
Pressure on Regulator
The UKGC has ramped up regulatory action in recent months as it faces political pressure to punish errant operators, having previously been accused of being too lenient.
It was also criticized for failing to back the plan to drastically reduce the maximum stakes on fixed-odds betting terminals from £100 to £2.
In October 2019, Labour politician MP Carolyn Harris said the UKGC was “not fit for purpose” after it failed to penalize Ladbrokes for buying the silence of the victims of a fraudster who had blown almost £1 million in stolen money with the company.
Harris said the regulator was “complicit in what is actually abuse – of power and of individuals.”
Since then, the UKGC has gotten busy. In just a matter of weeks, the regulator has suspended the licenses of sports betting operators Stakers, MoPlay, and Matchbook, and dished out its highest fine ever, $11.6 Million, to Betway for accepting stolen money.
Last month, the UKGC invited representatives from the gambling and tech industries to work on the “digital challenge” of creating a single industry-wide solution to help reduce problem gambling. They focused particularly where customers have multiple online accounts across numerous operators.
The gambling industry and the regulator are working together to create technology that will improve customer protection and help to temper the backlash against the industry that has swept the country in recent years.