The German online casino and sports betting brand, bet-at-home.com, is to have their UK operations investigated amid allegations of failures in social responsibility and anti-money laundering measures.
The Gambling Commission have temporarily suspended their licence while it undertakes its review into the firm, who operate in the UK alongside their European operations, which are overseen from their Dusseldorf headquarters and satellite offices in Gibraltar and Malta.
The regulator ‘suspects’ that the operator has committed social responsibility and anti-money laundering failings, and that the licence suspension was invoked as they believe bet-at-home ‘may be unsuitable to carry out the licensed activities.’
A statement from the Commission also stated:
“We have made it clear to the operator that during the course of the suspension, we expect it to focus on treating consumers fairly and keeping them fully informed of any developments which impact them.”
As things stand, bet-at-home customers are able to make withdrawals from their account, while pre-existing bets will be settled as normal. However, casino gamers won’t be able to access their favourite games or place any sports bets until the suspension is lifted, which could take a matter of weeks.
A message on bet-at-home’s UK website confirms the suspension, and reveals they will not be taking any new account registrations until the matter has been resolved.
“Our customer service is at your disposal for any support or clarification you may need; simply contact us at service.en@bet-at-home or use our live chat. We apologise for any inconvenience,” the message reads.
It’s the first time in eight years as a UK licence holder that bet-at-home has been sanctioned by the regulator.
While the UK gambling sector faces delays in its proposed reform while the chaos in Parliament is resolved, the German market has already had their revamped legislative landscape rolled out.
Powers have been devolved to state level – some allow for online casino games, sports bets and poker to be played, whereas others are strictly against it.
And that has hampered the progress of bet-at-home in their domestic market, with revenues falling a whopping 54% year-on-year in the first quarter of 2022. Growth is also expected to plateau, with a predicted marginal gain from €2.8 to €3.3 billion between 2021 and 2024.
Monthly deposit limits of €1,000 (around £850,000) have also hit some punters hard, with virtual slots hit by a €1 maximum stake per game and a ban on auto-play features.
Legal issues in other European countries, such as Austria, have only served to exacerbate their woes, and the situation has become so dire that Betclic Everest, the parent company of bet-at-home, have already decided to make 65 members of staff redundant as part of a wider restructuring programme.
Betclic Everest have since announced a merger with television production outfit Banijay to form FL Entertainment, with plans to float publicly. Their combined revenue is expected to be around €3.5 billion – nearly £3 billion – a year.