One of the largest gambling operators in the UK, Ladbrokes, agreed to pay a total of £1 million to the victims of one gambling addict who had stolen the money he was placing as bets in return to a formal promise not to refer the case to the industry regulatory body.
Ladbrokes bombarded the problem gambler with various gifts over a two-year period, including free tickets to football matches and business class flights. The player, who managed a property business in Dubai confessed that he had stolen money from his clients in order to fuel his high-roller habit, which he estimated to about £60,000 on a daily basis.
However, five of the problem gambler filed a complaint against Ladbrokes, saying that the company had been accepting stolen funds. As a result, the UK gambling operator agreed to pay them a combined sum amounting to £975,000. As revealed by the Guardian, Ladbrokes asked that in return they would not bring any reports or complaints to any regulatory body which regulates the industry in order to receive the promised money.
The major gambling industry body of the UK, the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC), explained that an enquiry into the matter is still being carried out in order for the authority to make sure it is aware of all the circumstances. A Ladbrokes spokesman confirmed that the company and the UKGC are working in cooperation, but refused to make any more comments on the matter.
Evidence Reveal Incentives’ Extent, the Guardian Says
The Guardian was provided with some text messages and photo evidence revealing the extent to which the British bookmaker offered generous incentives to the problem gambler. This is something that has turned into a common practice in the sector in order for operators to make sure that high-roller players remain loyal.
As mentioned above, a variety of incentives has been offered to the compulsive gambler, including free tickets to matches of Arsenal FC, four tickets for the boxing match between Mayweather and Maidana, as well as an invitation to the company box at the Royal Ascot. Moreover, on one occasion, some emails seen by the Guardian indicated that the gambling operator agreed to pay for business class return flights from Dubai to London, which were estimated to over £2,000 so that the high-roller was able to attend the football match between Arsenal and Tottenham.
Different incentives were given to the player for his birthday and for Christmas, as well as regular gifts or free bonus chips were given to him. According to the player himself, he had spoken with his account manager and shared that he might have a gambling problem but there is no evidence of the discussion. There were some text messages exchanged between the player and his account manager which raise some suspicions about the compliance of the company with regulatory rules set to especially provide protection against problem gambling and illegal practices such as money-laundering.