Ladbrokes Under Investigation By UK Gambling Commission

Allegations that betting shop staff did not meet responsible gambling obligations

The Guardian newspaper took another tilt at gambling Friday, reporting that staff at a Ladbrokes betting shop had stood by whilst a gambling addict took out pay day loans to fund hundreds of pounds of bets on fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs).

The newspaper reported that the UK Gambling Commission is investigating the incident, in which Paul Jones (39), a recovering gambling addict, alleges that he twice took out high-interest pay day loans by telephone in front of Ladbrokes staff at a branch in Birmingham.

Jones claims the betting shop staff even ran his credit card to see if the money had arrived in his account, and he has reportedly produced bank statements as evidence.

He alleges that over just a half-hour he on two occasions took out pay day loans in order to keep gambling on the machines, borrowing the maximum GBP 200 and burning through it in just 15 minutes.

He would have taken a third loan to keep playing, but his phone battery ran out and he was unable to do so.

Jones claims that the betting shop staff did nothing to warn or discourage him as he poured borrowed money into the FOBT, and revealed that he had previously followed a similar pattern at other High Street betting shops.

Approached by The Guardian on the incident, a Ladbrokes spokesman said that the company was committed to responsible gambling and had instigated its own investigation into the Jones allegations.

Gambling Commission executive director, Sarah Gardner, said: “We expect all operators to take their social responsibility duties seriously and to step in when and where they have concerns that a customer’s behaviour may indicate problem gambling. We take any operator failures to step in when they have concerns about customer behaviour very seriously.”

FOBT’s and the maximum stakes allowed on the machines is expected to form part of the UK government’s review of gambling, due for release in October.