Two weeks after being hit with the largest regulatory penalty in UK betting history, Entain is now back under the legal spotlight, as reported by The Times.
The paper reports that a high-staking bettor named Simon Rose placed wagers with Ladbrokes in the UK and UAE between 2015 and May 2016, and is now lodging a High Court claim against the operator.
Specifically, Rose has accused Ladbrokes of failing to carry out source of funds checks or monitor his betting activity, having placed a total of £1.8m and losing £231,000 over seven months, with affordability checks only conducted after a loss of £100,000.
Despite being on take-home pay of £3,000 a month, Rose bet an average of £18,000 a day when active – the case therefore argues that had Ladbrokes carried out appropriate affordability checks, he would not have been allowed to wager so highly.
Additionally, Rose claims that he was able to increase his weekly deposit limit from £1,000 to £20,000 a day by April 2016, before self-excluding from the operator the following month.
Ladbrokes has denied violating any licence conditions, whilst Entain has stressed that the incidents in question occurred two years prior to its acquisition of the Ladbrokes Coral group in 2017.
“We would note that the claims in question took place two years before we acquired Ladbrokes,” the FTSE100 firm informed The Times.
Entain’s response to the Rose’s High Court case has similar overtones to its reply to the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) financial penalty, received for social responsibility and AML failings.
The £17m charge has been split between Ladbrokes – which took on £3m for shortcomings in its high-street betting shops – and LC International – which operates 13 of Entain’s betting and gaming websites, and shoulderd the bulk of the penalty at £14m.
Specifics of the case relating to Ladbrokes saw staff at some locations fail to escalate and engage with customers considered to be at risk of problem gambling, such as two customers who lost £17,000 and £27,753 over a one year period.
A third incident involved a customer staking £168,000 on shop self-service betting terminals (SSBTs) over eight months before staff members conducted problem gambling interactions.
In its statement regarding the £17m charge, Entain highlighted that the breaches had occurred between 2019 and 2020, and since then the company has been accredited by GamCare on social responsibility and has implemented its Advanced Responsibility and Care (ARC) programme.
“The initial trials of ARC in the UK have shown a risk assessment accuracy of over 80%, a 120% uplift in the use of safer gambling tools by those most at risk, and a 30% overall reduction in customers increasing their risk levels,” the group continued.
“Furthermore, in May of this year Entain was awarded the Advanced Safer Gambling Standard by GamCare, having evidenced the highest standards of player protection and social responsibility for its online and land-based gambling businesses in Great Britain.”
The lawsuit comes not only in the aftermath of the Commission’s record penalty against Entain, but in the midst of similar charges against other operators for social responsibility and AML reasons.
With the Gambling Act review White Paper and its conclusions for the regulatory future of UK betting due for publication next month, and penalties mounting against operators, some have pointed to the need for a gambling ombudsman to avoid legal disputes such as Rose’s case against Entain.
In an interview with SBC News last week, Richard Hayler, Managing Director of the Independent Betting Adjudication Service (IBAS), stated that: “Everyone is calling for an ombudsman; politicians, consumers and even the industry itself.”
“An ombudsman isn’t a silver bullet. There will always be an adversarial element to gambling, so the expectations for an ombudsman need to be realistic,” he continued.
“With a bit more resource, what is achievable, is a service that can offer advice and support to consumers and provide dispute avoidance support to operators.”