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Crime and joint working toolkit

This toolkit provides you with guidance and case studies to give examples of how you can work with your police force and other agencies tackle local gambling-related issues.

  • Betwatch: Local scheme to share intelligence amongst bookmakers about anti-social behaviour and problematic customers
  • Gamblewatch: Local scheme to share intelligence between operators and regulators
  • FOBT receipts used to verify legitimacy of cash in drug dealing case
  • Anti-money laundering multi-agency operation
  • Illegal bookmaking and money lending
  • Fraudulent identification used to open online gambling accounts
  • Successful prosecution for scamming tourists in rigged cup and ball game 

Betwatch 

Local scheme to share intelligence amongst bookmakers about anti-social behaviour and problematic customers 

BetwatchWe have been working with West Midlands Police, betting shops, Business Improvement Districts, the Association of British Bookmakers and local authorities on a new approach to making communities safer by preventing and detecting gambling-related crime and anti-social behaviour under various Betwatch schemes.  

Betwatch schemes are aimed at reducing crime and anti-social behaviour in identified hotspots. Betting shop operators, local authorities and police are encouraged to share information on individuals committing criminal or anti-social acts. 

Local schemes have been successfully launched and are operating across Birmingham, Coventry and Solihull. There are further schemes being rolled out beyond the West Midlands, with interest from City of Westminster and Greater Manchester Police.  

Betwatch uses technology in the form of information sharing applications Facewatch and DISC to facilitate a ‘banned from one banned from all’ approach. The scheme is enacted where criminal or anti-social behaviour is identified as being an issue in either a wider area or around specific betting shops.  

Under the scheme any customer who engages in anti-social or abusive behaviour can be banned from all participating shops, as well as risking a criminal record. By working together, betting shop operators, police forces and local councils can play a key role in reducing and preventing criminal and anti-social behaviour.  

Gamblewatch 

Local scheme to share intelligence between operators and regulators 

A police led forum, Gamblewatch, hosted by Merseyside Police and comprising local authorities, Gambling Commission, trade associations and gambling operators meets quarterly to share intelligence. 

For example, the forum was used to share information among partners and the gambling industry relating to dyed notes from a cash in transit robbery at a Merseyside retail park. 

Major gambling operators revealed in excess of 20 dyed note incidents, where thousands of pounds of dyed notes had been laundered through Greater Manchester betting shops following the robbery. 

This information sharing enabled Greater Manchester and Merseyside Police to connect the various incidents and collect CCTV evidence. 

Importantly, these examples highlight how all parties decided to work together to tackle a problem, and during this, mutual trust and respect was built up, leading to information being shared quickly, and appropriate action taken. 

These examples are backed up by the ‘Safe Bet Alliance’, which sets out a series of measures to make shops safer for customers and staff 

Money laundering in betting shops  

FOBT receipts used to verify legitimacy of cash in drug dealing case 

West Yorkshire Police executed a warrant, granted under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, at the home address of a suspected drug dealer. Following a search of the man’s home, they seized a small quantity of controlled drugs together with £18,000 cash and £30,000 of designer clothing. They also found in excess of 400 FOBT payout receipts recording in excess of £36,000 cashed out from a bookmakers. 

Our compliance managers provided detectives with advice regarding the FOBT payout receipts and directed them to gambling data held on the gaming machine server.

The purpose of this useful line of investigation was to establish total sums gambled by the man, and the legitimacy or otherwise of the cash found. 

Anti-money laundering multi-agency operation 

There had been a number of instances where betting receipts had been provided as proof of the 'legitimacy' of cash that had been seized by police under Section 327 Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.  

Intelligence suggested that some offenders would carry betting receipts as insurance just in case they were stopped by police and their cash seized.  

Multi-agency visits to bookmakers in the Salford and Cheetham Hill areas gathered information on: 

  • physical security
  • anti-money laundering policy and procedures
  • staff training and knowledge
  • data on monitored customers
  • know your customer (KYC) understanding/intelligence.  

The aim was to support the industry and to raise awareness of duties under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 at grassroots level and improve local links between industry employees and public bodies.  

A monitored customer in one of the premises was identified for further enquiries. His ‘drop’ (money gambled/lost, which also includes recycled winnings) during the previous 12 months was in excess of £1m. He appeared to have lost approximately £100,000 during a period of only four weeks. Subsequent enquiries identified that this individual was visiting another bookmaker in the north of Manchester.  

This individual was known to police to have involvement with an organised crime group network involved in drugs. Subsequent joint activity by the police and the Gambling Commission resulted in:  

For the bookmaker:

  • regulatory actions for failing to comply with regulatory requirements (submission of SARs to National Crime Agency etc)
  • agreement to pay £120,000 to a gambling charity.  

For the individuals:

  • police arrested and questioned the man’s girlfriend who was bailed on suspicion of money laundering
  • arrest warrant for the man was issued.  

For the local police:

  • valuable intelligence regarding organised crime group members living and visiting bookmakers in the same area, the frequency of their visits to bookmakers and their level of spend. 

Illegal bookmaking and money lending 

R v James Alston Senior and James Alston Junior [2012]

A two year investigation by the Gambling Commission, Lancashire Trading Standards and the Illegal Money Lending Team for England resulted in an 18 month prison sentence for a man and 12 months for his son for illegal money lending and acting as an unlicensed bookmaker. 

The court concluded sentencing based on the charges of money lending, money laundering and possessing criminal property from the proceeds of acting as an unlicensed bookmaker which were brought against the pair. This resulted in a longer sentence than relying solely on the Gambling Act 2005 where offences carry a maximum term of imprisonment of 51 weeks. 

Identity theft and fraud 

Fraudulent identification used to open online gambling accounts 

An online betting company received two UK passports bearing different names but the same image within 12 minutes of each other. 

The matter was reported to the Gambling Commission and we passed it on to the Metropolitan Police Gaming Unit for investigation. 

A search of the offender’s address revealed more than 5,900 scans of passports, identity cards, utility bills and bank statements relating to individuals from countries including the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Europe. 

The individual had made nearly £80,000 from online gambling using fraudulent passports, identity cards and false utility bills to open numerous accounts and take advantage of new customer bonus offers. 

Following a criminal investigation by the Metropolitan Police, supported by the Gambling Commission, he was jailed for three years. 

Tourists scammed by rigged street gambling game 

Successful prosecution for scamming tourists in rigged cup and ball game 

Two men were charged under section 33 of the Gambling Act after an off-duty officer witnessed a group of men running a cup and ball game on Tower Bridge. 

The game works by targeting tourists to get them to try and predict which cup the plastic ball will be under, but the game is rigged and there is no actual chance to win. 

One man pleaded guilty and was fined £535 by the City of London Magistrates Court.

Also see

Money laundering - Information for licensing officers and local police

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Police Statutory Powers under the Gambling Act 2005

318 KB Download