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Crime and joint working toolkit

Published:
26 April 2021
Updated:
27 April 2021
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  • 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

There are now over 40 Betwatch schemes in operation in Great Britain, all with the central goal of bringing together gambling operators, local police forces and local authorities to share information and work in partnership in order to reduce crime and disorder in and around gambling premises.

The Betwatch concept is approved by the key bookmakers’ trade body, the Association of British Bookmakers, and the Senet Group (opens in new tab), and so principally involves bookmakers but the schemes can be extended to other types of gambling premises, AGCs and casinos being most common.

Working with those involved in some of the schemes we have produced a Betwatch information note (opens in new tab) which sets out the issues to take into consideration when setting up a Betwatch scheme, the materials available, and show cases some example of schemes which others can adapt as appropriate for their area.

We are also compiling a list of all Betwatch schemes (opens in new tab) in operation, and other similar schemes such as Citywatch or Gamblewatch. Contact betwatch@gamblingcommision.gov.uk if you have set up a scheme so we can add you to the list and similarly contact us if you are interested in joining or finding out more about an existing scheme.

Gamblewatch

A police led forum, Gamblewatch, hosted by Merseyside Police (opens in new tab) 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 (opens in new tab) and Merseyside Police (opens in new tab) 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

West Yorkshire Police (opens in new tab) executed a warrant, granted under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 (opens in new tab), 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 (opens in new tab).

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 (opens in new tab) 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:

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

A two year investigation by the Gambling Commission, Lancashire Trading Standards (opens in new tab) and the Illegal Money Lending Team for England (opens in new tab) 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 (opens in new tab) where offences carry a maximum term of imprisonment of 51 weeks.

Identity theft and fraud

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 (opens in new tab) 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 (opens in new tab), supported by the Gambling Commission, he was jailed for three years.

Tourists scammed by rigged street gambling game

Two men were charged under section 33 of the Gambling Act (opens in new tab) 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 (opens in new tab)

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