Defending their problem gambling record
Ladbrokes Coral owner GVC Holdings has defended its history of dealing with problem gambling. This follows the airing of a BBC Panorama show which saw reporter Bronagh Munro investigate how the issue affects the entire industry. The episode was titled ‘Addicted to Gambling.’
The show documents the story of three people who struggle with gambling problems. One of these people stole over £3m from their clients in order to fund his gambling addiction. Most of these bets were made with Ladbrokes. This gambler was made a VIP player on the Ladbrokes platform. This meant he would receive the likes of free bets, tickets to sporting events, and hospitably at these games.
Safer gambling processes implemented
While GVC Holdings admits some of their platforms had issues in the past with their dealing of problem gamblers, they now see themselves as being at the forefront of protecting those vulnerable gamblers.
The company made a statement following the airing of the Panorama episode detailing how these cases date back to when Ladbrokes was not under the control of GVC Holdings.
Speaking of the changes made since the GVC acquisition, the company said:
“Since that period the group has transformed its safer gambling processes, having made significant investment, not only financial but also in human resources and technological advancements.”
Through their statement, GVC outlined how they have significantly improved standards over the past 12 months. This is in a number of areas relating to problem gambling. This includes changes in marketing practices, the whistle to whistle advertising ban, as well as the commitment to contribute more funds to the research, education and treatment of problem gambling.
It was in July 2019 that GVC Holdings was hit with a £5.9m fine from the UK Gambling Commission. This was due to the company’s “systemic failings” relating to the company’s failure to adequately protect vulnerable customers. These people lost significant sums of cash between November 2014 and October 2017.
A huge number of complaints are made against gambling companies in the United Kingdom every year. There was a record of 8,266 complaints made to the industry regulator against gambling companies in 2018. This compares to only 1,990 complaints in 2014.
In the last three years, the Gambling Commission has conducted 307 wide-ranging investigations, resulting in fines totaling more than £40m. This is in an effort to bring into line the online gambling companies in the region.
Following calls for the introduction of a mandatory levy on gambling companies to generate funding for gambling addiction programs, some of the major operators pledged to increase their voluntary contribution.
Previously, the voluntary contribution was 0.1% of gross profits, but a lot of firms did not make these contributions. Paddy Power Betfair, GVC Holdings, William Hill, bet365 and SkyBet are now pledging to increase this voluntary levy to 1% of gross profits for the coming five years.
Commenting on the Panorama investigation, the Gambling Commission said: “The Panorama programme illustrated exactly why we continue to clamp down on irresponsible products and maintain our enforcement action against operators and senior executives who fail to protect customers or spot early signs of gambling harm.”
They went on to confirm how they are trying to make the UK market the safest and fairest in the world. The Gambling Commission also noted that it cannot do this alone and that the help of key stakeholders and health bodies is needed.