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Gambling Complaints - Latest News

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A useful summary of Gamblers’ rights can be found by following this link

October 2018

The Gambling Commission published new standards, which come into effect from 31 October and improve how complaints are handled by alternative dispute resolution (ADR) providers in the gambling industry.

New standards and guidance set out how consumer complaints should be handled and make clear the Commission’s expectations around:

  • The types of consumer complaints the GC expect providers to take on.
  • Principles for considering compensation.
  • Decision quality standards, particularly focused on how providers look at and use evidence.
  • The Ombudsman Association’s (OA) six principles of good governance which the GC expects providers to follow whether or not they are members of the OA.
  • Conflicts of interests.
  • The information and customer service providers give to consumers.
  • The information and data providers share with the GC and others.

Ian Angus, Programme Director for Consumer Protection and Empowerment said: “The standards published today seek to simplify existing complaints processes and ensure consumer complaints are handled in a fair, timely, transparent and effective manner. Improved standards will also help cultivate consumer trust and confidence in the industry. The standards will come into effect from 31 October, alongside further changes that provide stronger protection for consumers and ensure they are treated fairly.”

Following the 31 October, the Commission will begin to assess ADRs against the new standards.

Posted on 01 October 2018

New rules added to the licence conditions and codes of practice (LCCP) will raise standards for alternative dispute resolution (ADR), strengthen requirements on how licensees identify and interact with customers who may be at risk of or experiencing gambling harms, and improve the transparency of funding for research, prevention and treatment.

The latest changes follow open consultations and will come into force later this year and next year. Read more here:

Posted December 2019

Gambling-related admissions to hospital have reached more than one a day, as the health service grapples with betting addiction across Britain.

There were 379 such admissions to hospital in 2018/19, up 28% on 2015/16, according to NHSDigital figures that include those diagnosed as having a “pathological” gambling addiction.

Increase in Gambling

The survey showed that 53% of people had gambled in 2018, which included buying a lottery ticket, with 56% of men reporting that they had gambled against 49% of women. While the figures have fallen in recent years, the chief executive of NHS England, Simon Stevens, issued a warning not to infer the problems that gambling present had gone away.

“These new stats are a stark reminder of how common gambling is in our society and how easy it is to become addicted, particularly with the aggressive push into online gambling,” said Stevens on Tuesday.

“The NHS never stands still as health needs change, which is why we’re rolling out new specialist services to tackle mental ill health linked to gambling addiction, as part of our long-term plan.

“But it is high time that all these firms who spend many millions on marketing and advertising step up to the plate and take their responsibilities seriously.”

The rates have been falling in recent years. In 2016, the Gambling Commission reported that 56% of adults aged 16 or older gambled, while 62% had done so the previous year. In 2012, the first year the issue was covered by the Health Survey for England, 68% of men and 61% of women participated in a gambling activity.

Posted November 2019

Betway lets gambler, 30, with severe addiction blow £370,000 he stole from his employer

A major bookmaker allowed a customer with a severe gambling addiction to bet £370,000 he had stolen from his employer.

The gambling watchdog is investigating Betway after it failed to check whether Ben Jones, 30, could afford the huge sums he was wagering.

The married father-of-two took the cash from The Cake Decorating Co, where he worked as a wholesale manager.

A court heard Jones had an addiction so severe that it is categorised as a ‘psychiatric disorder’.

Over three and a half years he took up to £30,000 a month from the company, nearly driving it to bankruptcy.

His former bosses are considering suing Betway, which turned over £283million last year, to recoup the money.

The Gambling Commission has begun an inquiry, and could impose a multi-million-pound fine on Betway, which is owned by a shell company based in the tax haven of the British Virgin Islands.

On Thursday, Jones, of Colwick, Nottingham, was jailed for three years at Nottingham Crown Court.

Daniel White, owner of The Cake Decorating Co, said: ‘We were badly let down. Gambling companies have a regulatory duty to prevent stolen money from being gambled.

‘Adequate money-laundering checks were not carried out, which left us vulnerable to this crime.’

The court heard that Jones took the cash between May 2015 and November 2018, forcing the company to take out high-interest loans to stay afloat.

Under the ‘sophisticated’ scam, Jones would take orders from customers and give them his own bank account details for payment instead of the firm’s.

He would ensure the products were dispatched and would then alter computer records to cover his tracks. 

But his offending was uncovered after he forgot to change one order, and a customer who had not received their goods complained.

The firm began an investigation, and called police after Jones admitted he had been pocketing the money for more than three years.

The company, the UK’s largest cake decorator, would have gone bust if it had not spotted the fraud in November last year.

Prosecutor Katrina Wilson told the court: ‘Because Betway were not checking the authenticity of the money being used by this defendant, the company are seeking advice as to whether they can be reimbursed. The defendant is assisting in this. He admitted it was linked to his gambling addiction, which had spiralled out of control. He was not subject to supervision because he was a manager and no one oversaw his activities.’

Omran Belhadi, defending, said Jones’s gambling was ‘so severe it is categorised as a psychiatric disorder’. 

Nottingham Crown Court (above) heard that Jones took the cash between May 2015 and November 2018, forcing the company to take out high-interest loans to stay afloat
Nottingham Crown Court (above) heard that Jones took the cash between May 2015 and November 2018, forcing the company to take out high-interest loans to stay afloat

He told the hearing that Jones did not steal the money to profit from it, but simply couldn’t help himself, adding: ‘This was not motivated by a desire for personal gain, but the compulsion and addiction he suffered from. He is committed to rehabilitating himself.’

Mr Belhadi added that Jones, who was supported by his wife and family in court, was helping other addicts to stop gambling, and had held sessions with staff from another betting firm, Skybet, to help it ‘improve its systems’.

The Mail’s Stop The Gambling Predators campaign backs tighter regulations on the gambling industry, which makes £14.5billion in profit a year.

Under their licence conditions, gambling companies are required to check where the money customers bet comes from to prevent crime and money laundering.

In July, Ladbrokes Coral was fined £5.9million for failing to stop customers betting with stolen money.

A spokesman for Betway said: ‘Betway is aware of this matter and we are investigating it further.

‘As a responsible, licensed operator Betway does not seek, nor does it wish to profit, from any illicit funds wagered on its sites.

‘Where we establish that stolen funds have been used, we take steps to ensure that the victims are reimbursed.’

The case is just the latest linked to gambling addiction. Three bookies failed to stop finance director Steven Girling betting £1million of money stolen from his firm.

They kept him betting by bombarding him with bonuses and free tickets to top sporting events. The married father-of-two, from Norfolk, was jailed in January for four years.



Posted August 2019


Gambling Operators Fined

GVC Holdings will pay £4.8m and divest £1.1m “gained from customers as a result of its failings”.

In one instance, a Ladbrokes customer had 460 attempted deposits into their gambling account declined. However, they were still able to lose £98,000 over two and a half years.

The commission also highlighted a Coral customer who spent £1.5m over nearly three years, during which time they logged onto their account an average 10 times a day for one month and lost £64,000 in one four week period.

It said Coral “did not ask the customer to evidence their source of funds and could not provide evidence of any social responsibility interactions being carried out”.

Richard Watson, executive director of the Gambling Commission, said: “These were systemic failings at a large operator which resulted in consumers being harmed and stolen money flowing though the business and this is unacceptable.”

GVC said it “acknowledges and regrets” that certain legacy systems and processes in place at Ladbrokes and Coral “did not adequately meet the regulatory requirements”.

“These historical failings were unacceptable and since the acquisition, I have overseen a systematic review of the enlarged group’s player protection procedures and the individuals responsible for these problems have exited the business,” added GVC chief executive Kenneth Alexander.

“I am confident that we now have in place a robust and industry-leading approach to player protection.”

Shares in GVC Holdings rose 0.59% to 611.37p.

As well as the Ladbrokes and Coral brands GVC also owns gambling outlets bwin, Crystalbet, Eurobet, Neds and Sportingbet.

Its games brands include CasinoClub, Foxy Bingo, Gala, Gioco Digitale, partypoker and PartyCasino.

The penalty for Ladbrokes Coral Group is one of the biggest imposed by the gambling watchdog.

UK gambling firm 888 had to pay a record £7.8m in August 2017 as a result of serious failings in its handling of vulnerable customers.

Online gambling business Daub Alderney received a £7.1m penalty in November 2018 for failing to follow rules aimed at preventing money laundering and protecting vulnerable consumers.

William Hill had to pay around £6m for systemic senior management failure to protect consumers and prevent money laundering in a penalty package in February 2018

Posted July 2019


August 2018

Betting firms face a crackdown on breaches of advertising rules and consumer law in a drive to ensure fairer treatment for gamblers.

From October the Gambling Commission will have powers to impose unlimited fines for promotional campaigns that appeal to children or glamorise gambling.

The watchdog will also introduce an eight-week deadline for operators to resolve complaints with customers. It said the changes would make it quicker and easier to take action over breaches such as misleading promotions and bonus offers or unreasonable restrictions on withdrawals of winnings.

Britons gambled £13.9bn between October 2016 and September 2017, the most recent period for which figures are available. More than 100,000 people are employed across the industry and there are 8,532 betting shops, 649 bingo halls, 152 casinos and 183,928 gambling machines.

During the World Cup, British viewers were exposed to almost 90 minutes of betting adverts, prompting claims that children were being bombarded with messages encouraging them to gamble.

Neil McArthur, the chief executive of the Gambling Commission, said: “These changes will protect consumers from irresponsible advertising and misleading promotions, ensure that consumers can withdraw their money more easily and will mean that consumer complaints are dealt with more swiftly.”

The changes come after an open consultation and aim to provide stronger protections for gamblers. Operators will also face action for misleading advertising by third-party affiliates such as marketing agencies and for sending spam emails or texts to customers.

In June the government faced criticism, including from its own backbenches, for delaying curbs on £100-per-spin fixed-odds betting terminals, which earn £1.8bn a year for bookies.

“Time will tell whether these new powers are used appropriately and if gambling consumers are able to obtain their rights quickly following unfair treatment,” said Brian Chappell, the founder of Justice for Punters. “This announcement doesn’t cover all the injustices that occur, but it’s very welcome.”

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) launched a sector-wide investigation in collaboration with the Gambling Commission in 2016 into whether online gambling firms were treating customers fairly.

This led to the CMA launching enforcement action in June 2017 against a number of online gambling operators suspected of breaking consumer law in connection with their gaming promotions.

In February this year it announced that Ladbrokes, William Hill and PT Entertainment had committed to change how they offered bonus promotions to customers playing online, and in March it said BGO Entertainment had made similar commitments.

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