Tonybet Fined by UKGC

Tonybet Fined £443,000 for UNFAIR Terms

If you have read many of the other blog posts regarding fines and social responsibility failings on this website, you will have hopefully seen that I try to be quite understanding to operators who fall foul of the UKGC.

They are often trying to keep up with ever changing, and sometimes vague rule changes, and more often than not it is their internal software or procedures that lets them down rather than anything that feels premediated.

This time though, it just comes across as rotten.

The fine might not be headline grabbing, but the reasons behind it have got my back up, as you will see.

Tonybet Making Life Difficult for Winners

Unfair TermsThere were some failures concerning anti-money laundering and social responsibility which were also taken into consideration when issuing the fine, but the bit I am most interested in personally, is the unfair terms.

In this case, the UKGC found issue with a number of Tonybet’s terms, including:

  • TonyBet may request identification documents for ‘all withdrawals’ while not having insisted on those same checks earlier in the business relationship, potentially hampering withdrawals but not deposits
  • winnings could be confiscated where consumers failed to provide AML documentation within 30 days
  • accounts are considered dormant after six months inactivity, when accounts can only be considered dormant after 12 months inactivity.

These seem suspiciously like money grabbing attempts, in an effort to limit the number of winners who can successfully claim their winnings.

For example; by only requesting identification documents for ‘all withdrawals’ and not all deposits, Tonybet show that their main concern is the money that leaves people’s accounts, not the money that goes in.

In the words of gambling author, Rob Davis, this:

‘backs up the notion that a lot of gambling operators aren’t interested in performing checks on potentially addicted/vulnerable punters, as long as they’re losing.

‘When those punters happen to win, suddenly operators get all socially responsible and put up roadblocks.’

Rob is classed by many as anti-gambling, so he isn’t exactly unbiased, but his point is valid in this case.

Going back to the terms; if a punter wins then gets ID checked and fails to satisfy whatever criteria Tonybet deem acceptable for anti money laundering checks within 30 days, their winnings are forfeit.

So in other words, the operator can make it difficult for a punter to claim their winnings, the take those winnings back if the punter can’t clear the hurdles put in their way (by the operator) in a short space of time.

Not cool.

UKGC Steps In

UKGC Coffee Mug SloganThe exact penalty issued by the UKGC is £442,750, and Tonybet have also been given an official warning to clean up their operation if they want to continue trading in this country.

This means they are now being watched much more closely by the regulating body, and will have to undergo an audit by a 3rd party to establish whether or not they are implementing the rules laid out by the UKGC effectively enough.

Kay Roberts of the UKGC said in a statement:

“Not only does this case illustrate our drive to clamp down on anti-money laundering and social responsibility failures, but also highlights action we will take against gambling businesses who fail to be fair and open with customers.”

Tonybet is the only brand owned by the Estonian based company which is operating in the UK, so no other brands are impacted by this.