Lessons from MaxEnt Limited’s licence revocation
27 January 2020
Operators are being reminded of the importance of being able to prove to the Gambling Commission legitimate source of funds when acquiring or investing in gambling businesses.
MaxEnt Limited (MaxEnt) applied for a continuation of their licence following a change of corporate control. The application revealed a previous undisclosed change of corporate control, a situation which can lead to licence revocation.
The Commission was unsatisfied with the source of funds used to finance the business - both prior to the undisclosed change of corporate control, and during the later disclosed change of corporate control.
Commission officials were concerned that the funds used posed a risk to the licensing objectives, notably, preventing gambling from being a source of crime or disorder, being associated with crime or disorder, or being used to support crime.
Issues around the evidence provided, and the fragmented disclosure process, raised concerns as to the suitability of the applicant to hold a licence.
The key findings of the Regulatory Panel were as follows:
- Officials were satisfied as to the adequacy of resources now available to the applicant to fund the business in the future but not as to the source of funds used to acquire and support the business at the time of, and following, the changes of corporate control;
- The Commission had no adequate evidence of the source of funds used to acquire and finance the business in 2017 and through 2018;
- In a declaration form to another gambling regulator, the applicant failed to identify their previous ownership and management of a casino. This was also omitted from the applicant’s CV provided to the Commission;
- Despite a protracted period of correspondence and discussion between the applicant and Commission officials prior to the Panel hearing, further material was produced to the Commission shortly before the hearing;
- New, previously undisclosed information was identified during the hearing which required the applicant to provide further material; and
- After the provision of this further material, evidence of source of funds remained outstanding. This meant that neither the Licensee nor the applicant had a proper appreciation for the need to be full and frank with the Commission, nor for what the Commission requires to process an application of this kind.
The Regulatory Panel was not satisfied for the Commission to grant an operating licence to MaxEnt had the applicant been in control of the company when the application for the licence was made. Accordingly, the Regulatory Panel decided that MaxEnt’s operating licence should be revoked.
As a result of MaxEnt’s failures the operator lost its licence to provide gambling facilities to consumers in Great Britain.