Ladbrokes Tempted Problem Gambler – Then Paid His Victims Not To Inform Industry Regulator

One of the world’s largest bookmakers agreed to pay over £1m back to the victims of a problem gambler, who had stolen the money he was using to bet – in return for them not informing the United Kingdom’s Gambling Commission (the industry regulator.)

In documents supplied to the Guardian newspaper, Ladbrokes were shown to have showered a problem gambler with thousands of pounds-worth of perks over the course of two years – which included free business class flights, and tickets to premier league football matches – in order to tempt him to gamble.

The British citizen – who ran a successful property development business in Dubai – was later found to have stolen funds from his clients in order to fund his gambling habit, and at one point, he is said to have spent as much as £60,000 in a single day.

When five of his victims made a complaint against Ladbrokes for allegedly accepting stolen funds, the bookmaker agreed to pay the victims a combined total of £975,000 – on the proviso that the victims agreed “not to bring any complaint or make any report to any regulator in relation to the claim.”

In a surprising move, the Gambling Commission commented publicly on the case (something they seldom do), telling the Guardian: “We are enquiring into this matter to ascertain the full circumstances.

“We have clear expectations of all operating and individual personal management licence holders, we expect them to work with us in an open and cooperative way including the need to disclose to us anything which we would reasonably expect to know.”

A spokesman for Ladbrokes said: “We are cooperating with the Gambling Commission where necessary and have no comment to make at this time.”

What Perks Did Ladbrokes Offer The Gambler?

The Guardian revealed that Ladbrokes offered the problem gambler a wide variety of incentives, including tickets to see Arsenal play, a booth at the Floyd Mayweather v Marcos Maidana match in Las Vegas, and an invitation to the company box at Royal Ascot.

In itself, offering these perks is not against UKGC regulation – it’s commonplace for online casinos to reward their hi-rollers – but the lack of responsible gambling checks will raise doubts about the effectiveness of Ladbrokes’ responsible gambling checks.

Ladbrokes clearly went above-and-beyond to ‘woo’ the gambler – and on one occasion, it’s revealed that the bookmaker agreed to pay for business class flights from Dubai to London, so that the gambler could watch the north London derby between Arsenal and Tottenham. This was at a cost of over £2,000.

To give you an idea of how much the punter was spending, his birthday saw the operator place a “birthday bonus” of £3,500 in his Ladbrokes account – and bonuses and free-bet chips were commonly placed in his account, all year round.

What is so worrying about this case, is that the problem gambler claims to have told his account manager at the beginning of a 5-month break, that he ‘feared he had a gambling problem and was trying to take a break’. Although there exists no evidence of this claim, it’s worrying to see that even during this 5-month break, he was being showered with perks still, by the bookmaker.

Also worrying, is Ladbrokes’ failure to carry out SOW (source of wealth) checks – something that would likely have picked up on the fact that the gambler was using stolen funds to place wagers.

Text message conversations supplied to the Guardian reveal that the gambler was assigned a personal account manager – who then allowed the gambler to continue gambling, despite not providing SOW documents, as required by UKGC regulations.

The messages show the account manager telling the problem gambler: “Don’t know if you know about this but there is a new law in place imposed by the Gambling Commission to have on file provenance of funds from its top customers.”

The account manager then asked the customer for a bank statement showing his income – only to then go on and say “don’t worry mate won’t need this now” when the customer failed to reply.

In speaking to the Guardian, the gambler – who asked to remain anonymous for the sake of protecting his family – said: “The scary thing is that the increase in time and money I spent gambling was huge. I cannot believe it was not noticed and checked. I should have been asked questions.

“To make matters worse, Ladbrokes made me a part of a settlement that I never wished to be a part of and I had to leave rehab to sign it. I never asked or received a penny, I lost my home, my family and my company because of my gambling.”

He later stated that he broke the terms of his agreement because ‘he thought it was in the public interest to do so.’

“I hope by me reporting this to the Gambling Commission that some of the victims rightfully get their full money back, but also that this shows them that the operator has no respect for their codes of practice.”

He went on to reveal that he is still receiving treatment for his gambling problem from the Gordon Moody Association – a charity that helps those suffering from problem gambling.

Ladbrokes’ behaviour is likely going to rile the Gambling Commission – and given the Commission’s focus on responsible gambling over the last year, it’s likely the bookmaker may well incur financial penalties and fines as a result.

The last few months have seen a few major bookmakers hit with multi-million pound fines – and these have almost always been as a result of failures surrounding money-laundering and problem gambling checks.

Some of the companies fined include William Hill, Paddy Power, 888, and SkyBet – so it’s clear the Commission is unafraid to issue penalties to the biggest companies on the planet.