Gambling operators won £1.3 million in stolen funds from a problem gambler without making sure where the funds came from. The revelations once again fuelled concerns about whether the gambling firm’ due diligence to players who lose large amounts of money on their services.
The beginning of the week saw a Norwich crown court sentenced the 44-year-old Andy May to four years in jail for fraud after the man confessed that he used to misappropriate funds from the company he worked at. As reported by The Guardian, Mr May siphoned funds from the clothing company where he worked at the position of a senior manager and placed thousands of bets, some of which worth over £50,000 with gambling companies such as Betway, Betfair and BoyleSports.
According to information obtained via a subject access request, the gambling firms provided the player with some enticements such as tickets to football and rugby matches, races, and free bets. However, the bookmakers did almost nothing to check whether the punter was actually able to afford his gambling habit. The gambling operators also did little to check the source of funding, or at least not until Mr May racked up huge losses.
Gambling companies the player place bets with faced much criticism after it became clear that they did very little to check customer details in order to make sure a player can afford his losses and is not using stolen funds as bets.
Poor Source-of-Funds Checks Executed by Betway, Betfair and BoyleSports, Court Hears
As the Norwich court heard, the punter funded his gambling habit by misappropriating over £1.3 million from Sealskinz, the outdoor clothing company he worked at. Almost all of the stolen funds were spent by Mr May with online gambling companies.
According to betting records, he lost more than £600,000 with Betway in the period from January 2017 to January 2019, with £461,000 of the overall sum originating from stolen funds. At first, the betting company did not approach the player to check for evidence of his wealth. Betway only approached Mr May with questions regarding his source of funds after he had lost £116,000 on its platform services. As mentioned above, the series of massive bets made by the player triggered no further intervention on the bookmaker’s part other than offering him incentives such as tickets to an England football match and free bets.
The player also lost a considerable sum with another betting operator – the Flutter Entertainment-owned Betfair. The court heard that £268,000 of the overall £437,000 placed as bets between 2014 and 2016 were stolen. At the court hearing, it also became clear that a Betfair VIP manager sent a message to Mr May asking him whether everything was okay when he started depositing less than he had previously done. It was in February 2017 when the company finally asked him for a source of funds evidence but did not take steps to close the player’s account for 8 more months.
With the third gambling company – BoyleSports – the player placed dozens of bets amounting to over £500,000 combined in the period between March 28th, 2017 and May 3rd, 2017. Despite the staggering sequence of large bets, the betting operator did not secure proof of the player’s source of funds. Even more, the bookmaker kept on bombarding Mr May with offers of free bets until September 2020.
The player himself revealed that he had sent details of his betting with multiple operators to the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC), including one that did so little due diligence checks that his gender was listed as female.