Gambling Commission calls for operator caution regarding Russian customers and businesses
Russia’s ongoing Ukraine invasion that has resulted in various government sanctions has been the cause of all this. The Gambling Commission is now reminding operators that they should go an extra step to ensure that their businesses are not used for terrorist financing and money laundering by customers from sanctioned jurisdictions such as Russia.
Gambling Commission goes on to state that operators that fail to take a risk-based approach could end up breaching the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act 2018 and ultimately end up in enforcement action against the operator. The act is very extensive and describes the different types of sanctions that can be put in place, such as immigration sanctions, financial sanctions, trade sanctions, shipping, and aircraft sanctions. The operators are thus advised to familiarize themselves with the act when dealing with customers and entities from Russia.
During this war period, any operators who may have breached sanction laws have been advised to present themselves to the Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation and not wait for the laws to catch up with them.
MGA advises operators to perform fresh background checks
It is not only the GC that has issued a directive, as the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) is also advising operators licensed under it to perform background checks on their customers. MGA was founded in 2001 and is tasked with regulating most of the country’s gambling activities in both land-based and online casinos. Malta Gaming Authority’s focus is on promoting responsible gambling, safeguarding players’ rights, keeping gaming free from criminal activities, protecting minors and vulnerable persons, and ensuring the integrity of gaming devices and games, to mention a few.
Even though MGA is the main regulatory body for gaming activities in Malta, it is also one of the most-preferred global remote gaming regulators. Thus, it means that the body, in most cases, sets standards the global standards for gaming. Operators who want to acquire an MGA licence must demonstrate that they have clear ownership, separate player funds, have sufficient finances, have no links to crime/ terrorist activities, and are competent.
Sanctions all over
Russia is now ahead of Iran and North Korea to become the world’s most sanctioned country following their invasion of Ukraine. President Vladimir Putin’s continued attack is now two weeks old, and this has seen various tech companies, small and big, cease operating and selling their products in Russia.
With a video call with U.S. Lawmakers, Volodymyr Zelensky, the president of Ukraine, called on American companies to stop transacting with Russians. Video gaming companies such as EA and CD Projekt are already taking measures to reduce their business in Russia or stop the activities altogether. It is no different in the U.K., as the London Stock Exchange suspended trading in 27 companies that are believed to have strong links with Russia a week ago.
However, companies that are UK-incorporated with primary London listing and those incorporated elsewhere but adhere to United Kingdom takeover and corporate governance codes and with more than 50% of their shares traded in the United Kingdom capital are still trading.
The continued invasion by Russia of Ukraine has attracted worldwide attention, and there are likely to be even more directives and sanctions unless the situation is not contained. The fact that some companies are not even waiting for governments’ directives shows that the situation is dire.
The gaming industry was 149 billion Russian rubles in 2020 and is expected to grow to 190 billion Russian rubles by 2025. On the other hand, Ukraine’s video game market is forecasted to generate US$214m in 2022.