Isle of Man-Based Gaming Operator IMME Gives up Gaming License
International Multi-Media Entertainments Limited (IMME) is done trying to fight the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC). The Isle of Man-based online gaming operator failed on a number of levels, which were only now revealed by the regulator.
IMME is behind lotteries.com and thelotterycentre.com. It began to run into trouble almost two years ago when the UKGC began reviewing its license. That review, explains the UKGC in an update published yesterday, led to the operator having its license suspended in March 2020.
The UKGC quickly realized that IMME needed to have its license revoked. The company was found to be in violation of no less than 20 different regulations and was guilty of a string of irregularities on top of that.
IMME Unable to Conform
The regulator concluded that IMME’s anti-money laundering (AML) policies were full of holes. The company was also remiss in following through with customer identity verifications, complying with advertising codes, reporting requirements and other requirements.
We will not tolerate gambling businesses behaving in the way IMME did. Gambling operators in Britain must follow our social responsibility and anti-money laundering rules, and a failure to do this will lead to us taking tough action,” said UKGC Executive Director Helen Venn.
The UKGC also became concerned over the company’s marketing practices and misclassification of gambling products. IMME also overlapped licensed and non-licensed gaming products and routinely failed to adequately respond to consumer complaints.
IMME initially challenged the decision, but wasn’t allowed to maintain its license while the case was waiting to be heard. Finally, in September of this year, with just a month to go before the hearing, IMME surrendered its license.
It wasn’t until now that the UKGC decided to publish all of the details surrounding the case. This was done in an effort to provide “wider lessons to be learned by the industry.”
IMME Unable to Play by the Rules
Among its operations, IMME would offer a platform for bettors to bet on the outcome of lotteries. However, the site didn’t make it clear and, to some users, gave the impression that it was selling lottery tickets. Efforts by those to contact the company to clear the air were futile.
The company also targeted the elderly with its marketing schemes, according to the UKGC. One customer, already a nonagenarian, was contacted by sales agents several times a week. Another customer received phone calls every 30-40 minutes until someone picked up the call.
The UKGC found that over 75% of IMME’s customers were 60 years old or older; 20% were above 80. Call center personnel used aliases when making calls. This is a practice most above-board companies avoid.
The List of Infractions Continues
Other egregious errors were the AML and identity verification failings. One customer spent £23,839 (US$32,000) in five months. While not unheard of, he was more than 100 years old at the time, and his deposits doubled during that period. IMME didn’t bother to verify the person or the source of the funds.
Two other customers were retired postal workers. Based on data from Glassdoor, the average postal worker salary in the UK is £22,460 (US$30,000). However, these two deposited £20,345 (US$27,325) and £16,207 (US$21,767), respectively, in six months or less.
Yet another customer, a 78-year-old man, deposited £63,951 (US$85,000) in a little more than three months. However, there were no records at IMME of the transactions. The individual’s brother told the UKGCC that some of the money was withdrawn from his brother’s bank account by IMME while he was in the hospital or at an assisted living facility.
Directly, IMME failed to comply with 17 different License Conditions and codes of practice. While it might be easy to justify an oversight of one or two, failing on so many levels is a wanton disregard of regulations. Surrendering its license was the only right move IMME made.
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