Ladbrokes will not be fined for telling the victims of a £1m ($1.3m) theft that they would only receive compensation if they did not report the incident to the national regulator.
The United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC) has been investigating into the matter since 2018. The story was initially broken by The Guardian, which revealed how Ladbrokes encouraged a gambling addict named Tony Parente, as well as the people this man stole from to fund his addiction, to sign non-disclosure agreements (NDAs).
The UKGC has given prior guidance to gambling companies over the use of NDAs. The commission recently wrote to Parente saying that Ladbrokes won’t be facing any sanctions over its use of NDAs in this case.
Parente was told by the UKGC that it was
satisfied that the NDA you were signatory of did not breach any of our license conditions or regulatory requirements.”
Reaction to the decision
Labour MP Carolyn Harris is the chair of a parliamentary group relating to gambling harm. She says that the decision to not fine Ladbrokes is not a good one.
Harris said: “Until we reshape the gambling regulations in this country, the industry will continue to exploit and hold vulnerable gamblers to ransom.”
She went on to say that the commission is complicit in the abuse of power and the abuse of individuals.
The UKGC responds
The UKGC did issue its own response to this issue. It said that the operator had fully reported all details and that Ladbrokes has since been given advice about their conduct relating to the use of NDAs, stating:
We have also ensured that all future NDAs make clear that parties to the agreement can inform the relevant regulator.”
The case is still not fully closed. Ladbrokes may still be on the receiving end of a fine. This is for encouraging Parente to continue betting by giving him bonuses, cashback on his losses, and numerous free gifts.
Further details about this incident
He did highlight apparent inadequacies on Ladbroke’s part to identify his spiral into addiction.
Parente said: “The scary thing is that the increase in time and money I spent gambling was huge. I cannot believe it was not noticed and checked. I should have been asked questions.”
Five victims made a complaint about Ladbrokes accepting stolen funds. This led to the bookmaker saying it would pay a total compensation of £975,000 ($1.25m). However, this was conditional on the victims agreeing to “not to bring any complaint or make any report to any regulator in relation to the claim.”
Also as part of this proposed agreement, the victims would not assist any other party in making a similar claim against the company.