Star Sports fined for AML and social responsibility failures

United Kingdom

Star Racing Limited, trading as Star Sports, (“Star Sports”) has been issued an official warning, a £594,000 financial penalty and had additional conditions attached to its operating licence by the UK Gambling Commission (the “Commission”) for anti-money laundering and social responsibility failures.

Following a review of Star Sports’ operating licence, the Commission found that, between March 2020 and May 2021, the licensee was in breach of AML and social responsibility obligations under the Licence Conditions and Codes of Practice (the “LCCP”).


Licence conditions (“LC”) 12.1.1 (2) and (3) of the LCCP provide that licensees must have appropriate AML policies, procedures and controls in place, based on their risk assessment, which must be implemented effectively and kept under review.

LC 12.1.2 requires that operators based in foreign jurisdictions must comply with Parts 2 and 3 of the Money Laundering Regulations 2007 (UK Statutory Instrument No. 2157 of 2007) as amended by the Money Laundering (Amendment) Regulations 2007 (UK Statutory Instrument No. 3299 of 2007).

Star Sports was found to have breached LC 12.1.1(2) and (3) and LC 12.1.2 as:

  • it had ineffective policies, procedures and controls in place at the time of its compliance assessment;
  • it allowed customers to deposit large amounts before obtaining source of funds information; and
  • it failed to analyse source of funds information when it was obtained.

Social responsibility

Social Responsibility Code Provisions (“SRCP”) 3.4.1(1) and (2) of the LCCP require operators to interact with customers in a way which minimises the risks of customers experiencing harms associated with gambling. This involves identifying at risk customers, interacting with them and evaluating the effectiveness of such interactions.

Star Sports was found to be in breach of SRCP 3.4.1(1) and (2) as it did not demonstrate an understanding of the impact and effectiveness of customer interactions in terms of the minimisation of customer risk.


The Commission imposed the following:

  • a financial penalty of £594,000;
  • a warning; and
  • additional conditions on Star Sports’ operating licence, requiring it to conduct risk-based due diligence on the third parties it interacts with.


The Commission published limited information about Star Sports’ failings, but there are a few points of particular note from this case:

  • There continues to be a significant time lapse between failures identified by the Commission and the conclusion of enforcement action. Star Sports’ sanctions relate to failings going back to 2020.
  • The conditions the Commission attached to Star Sports’ operating licence reinforce the importance of operators conducting due diligence on the third parties it interacts with. This was highlighted in the Commission’s emerging money laundering and terrorist financing risks bulletin in February 2022.
  • This case evidences the Commission’s continued focus on social responsibility failings and the minimisation of customer risk, which it appears customers are becoming more alive to. One of Star Sports’ customers, who described himself as a “problem gambler”, sought to advance a claim against Star Sports on the basis it allowed him to wager and lose hundreds of thousands of pounds despite knowing he had a gambling problem, in breach of the SRCP. Whilst the case was dismissed and it was concluded that consumers do not have a private law cause of action against operators for breach of regulatory obligations or a duty to prevent economic loss, it shows an increasing awareness of operators’ obligations in respect of social responsibility, albeit using these responsibilities as the basis of an attempt to recover their losses.