You might not have heard of Keith Bristow, but he’s the ex-Director General of the National Crime Agency. He was recently made Chair of the Gambling Anti-Money Laundering Group, (GAMLG) whose members consist of the Association of British Bookmakers and the Remote Gambling Association.
New money laundering regulations have recently been introduced requiring those gambling more than £1,500 to be identified. However, it seems that this applies to all except “proven low-risk” gambling sectors.
By “sexing up” the risk assessment, GAMLG convinced the Treasury that instead of being 86% high risk, as the regulator had assessed, betting shops were just 25% high-risk. This is despite bookies’ FOBTs allowing up to £50 a spin without a name check, and up to £100 a spin with a loyalty card – even without name verification.
GAMLG then proposed “controls” claiming that these would reduce betting shop high-risk factors from 25% down to 0%. The Treasury accepted the GAMLG’s propaganda and excused betting shops and remote betting from the new regulations.
Betting shop FOBTs have also regularly been identified as money laundering machines for drug dealers. A Birmingham Court recently found a drug dealer from Cardiff had laundered over a million pounds through Ladbrokes. The Gambling Commission is yet to announce any sanctions for Ladbrokes.
When anyone gets into bed with the bookies there’s a good chance of reputational harm.
But for Bristow, the opportunity to line his pockets was too good to turn down.