Are William Hill Still In FOBT Money-Laundering Denial?

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The Liverpool Echo recently broke the story of a police raid which led to the discovery of a cannabis farm. This led to nine arrests and three people were charged with intent to supply Class A and Class B drugs, and for a plot to launder £120,000 through bookmakers.

Yet the bookmakers are still trying to lobby against their inclusion in the Fourth EU Money Laundering Directive which would require customers to identify themselves if they stake more than a total of £1500 in a day.

In 2013 the Campaign for Fairer Gambling, which advocates a £2 per spin limit on FOBTs explained to a public forum how it conducted a money-laundering test in a William Hill shop. £500 was inserted into a FOBT, and after three £100 minimal risk spins on roulette, a ticket was withdrawn and the money claimed at the counter.

Andrew Lyman, the Director of Group Regulatory Affairs at William Hill, then claimed that betting shops “have systems in place to prevent” money laundering, and that “many businesses, such as supermarkets, have to absorb an element of criminal money.”

One attendee then pointed out that “you can’t do it in supermarkets” and that they had “known nightclubs to be closed down” because of money-laundering.

Mr. Lyman also claimed incorrectly that wagering less than 40% of the cash deposited in a FOBT would automatically generate a Suspicious Activity Report (SAR). The reality is, staff are alerted when this has happened but it is up to them to flag up a SAR. This alert can be easily avoided by money-launderers, most of whom are aware of its parameters anyway. Even so, there were 633 SARs recorded in betting shops last year.

Mr. Lyman has been at the forefront of misleading politicians and the public, but was caught out by the Convenor in a Scottish Executive inquiry into FOBTs, which recommended FOBTs be banned. Mr. Lyman claimed that it was not possible to use a debit card on a FOBT, but it was then pointed out that a card could be used at the counter and the credit loaded onto the machine.

He was then forced to apologise for aggressive lobbying, so will he now apologise for getting it wrong on money-laundering?



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