The new Italian anti money laundering (AML) guidelines for gaming operators by the gambling authority set important new obligations to be immediately adopted.
As previously discussed, after the implementation of the 4th AML directive in Italy, there had been a number of concerns for their impact on gambling operators. These concerns were meant to be clarified by AML guidelines from the Italian gambling authority whose final guidelines are now available and provide for the obligation on both land-based and online operators to run strict checks on players based on
- the type of game,
- their location,
- the behaviour pattern and
- the impossibility or difficulty to identify them.
These same stringent checks shall be performed in relation to land-based games with reference to distributors and gaming hall/betting shop managers, also running trainings on the personnel that is in charge of performing anti money laundering checks on players.
In particular the guidelines provide clarification on the following topics:
AML Identification of players on Italian licensed online gambling platforms
At the time of the registration, operators shall only collect all the information provided by the gaming account agreement issued by the Italian gambling authority, while no simplified registration as the so called “fast registration” is allowed.
This provision does not clarify whether players’ IDs have to be collected at the time of the registration which was one of the main concerns arising from Italian law implementing the 4th AML directive. It only mentions that the details of IDs shall be collected at the time of the registration and updated on the expiring of the ID, leaving room for misinterpretations as to whether the copy of IDs have to be actually collected at all.
Identifiers of anomalous behavior to track suspecious conducts
Operators shall put in place systems able to detect unusual behaviors based on both financial criteria such as the amount of deposits and withdrawals and the timing of performance of unusual activities such as the frequency of deposits/withdrawals in a time window.
These identifiers shall be able to spot a group of suspecious players that will be then be subject to deeper scrutiny according to further criteria that take into account their behaviour. And the same shall happen with reference to anomalous concentrations of winnings and losses, especially in betting exchange and cash poker.
Also, with reference to sports betting and horse betting, it is necessary to be able to connect data to the relevant players and shops in order to identify potentially fraudulent behaviours.
Any payment means can be “traceable“ to limit money laundering
The Italian law integrating the 4th AML directive provided that only “traceable” means can be used to perform payments on online gambling platforms. This provision had created concerns in relation to anonymous payment means such as vouchers and scratch cards.
The guidelines provide that these payment means can be used, but only after the receipt by the operator of a copy of the player’s ID which is the same requirement currently provided by Italian gaming law.
As a further safeguard, the guidelines require that operators need to monitor the frequency of usage of vouchers by players and the ration between the total amount of deposits and those performed by means of vouchers.
New Italian AML obligations and new tests for VLTs
The decree implementing the 4th anti money laundering directive already provides for specific obligations in relation to VLTs, but the guidelines are more specific on the traceability and identification obligations applicable to VLTs.
The changes impact also on the technical features of machines since they need to be able to identify anomalous behaviors and provide that information to gaming hall manegers. This is why machines had to be submitted for verification of compliance with the new requirements by the 4th of July 2018 and be in place by 31 March 2019.
The guidelines prescribe that within 30 days from their adoption, license holders shall communicate to the Italian gambling authority the procedures and checks put in place to ensure compliance with them.