Ladbrokes Fined AU$78k, But Can Keep AU$758k Worth of Fraudster’s Bets

  • Gavin Fineff has pleaded guilty to stealing millions from his financial planning clients
  • The NTRC condemned Ladbrokes for not noticing red flags related to Fineff’s gambling activity
  • Fineff lost AU$758k with Ladbrokes and over AU$8m in total through his gambling
  • Some people are calling on the NTRC to introduce stricter penalties for errant operators
Man in handcuffs
Ladbrokes has been fined AU$78k in Australia for ignoring red flags as a fraudster gambled on the platform. [Image:]

Failing to spot red flags

Ladbrokes has been fined AU$78,540 (US$52,912) for its failings related to its courting and relationship of a disgraced financial planner who pleaded guilty to stealing millions from clients. Despite the disciplinary action, the company is permitted to keep the AU$758,510 (US$511,008) that the fraudster gambled with the operator. Gavin Fineff will be sentenced later in March in the New South Wales (NSW) district court.

condemned Ladbrokes for not noticing potential red flags

The Northern Territory Racing Commission (NTRC) condemned Ladbrokes for not noticing potential red flags relating to Fineff’s gambling activity. Ultimately, the commission did not deem the bets that the fraudster made through Ladbrokes as being unlawful, which is why the operator can keep the money.

Failing to uphold its responsibilities

Ladbrokes approached Fineff in 2018 to try to get him to open up an account after a staff member had learned that Fineff was a significant gambler at another sportsbook. After opening an account on the Entain-owned platform, Fineff placed bets totaling AU$17.5m during a 21-month stretch and received AU$528,890 (US$356,313) worth of bonuses. His net loss with Ladbrokes was AU$758,510 (US$511,008), but he allegedly lost over AU$8m (US$5.4m) in total through sports betting.

Most sportsbook operators in Australia are based in the Northern Territory for tax purposes, which is why the NTRC is the regulator for most online gaming companies.

Fineff requested that the NTRC consider deeming the funds he wagered at Ladbrokes to be proceeds of a crime (his own crime, to be clear). In his submission to an online gambling-related parliamentary inquiry, Fineff said that “returning proceeds of crime is socially responsible and a mere accounting adjustment” for sportsbooks.

The watchdog decided that Ladbrokes had no evidence that some of the funds were proceeds of crime. The NTRC still condemned Ladbrokes for appearing to “have been more focused on realising its own profits from the gambler rather than ensuring that it was providing a responsible gambling environment.”

Calls for change

On the back of the NTRC ruling, an Entain spokesperson confirmed that the operator accepts the penalty action. They also noted the company has since invested in improving customer protection processes.

not sufficient to properly disincentivize gambling operators from breaching regulations

Some people have condemned the size of the fine; independent MP Andrew Wilkie called it “loose change” for Ladbrokes. He believes that the authorities should make an example of the company. Many people across Australia believe that the current scope of enforcement action is not sufficient to properly disincentivize gambling operators from breaching regulations.

The regime in the UK, for example, is much more stringent. In August 2022, the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) issued a £17m (US$20.4m) fine to Entain for failing to have proper responsible gambling checks in place. The UKGC warned the company that further violations could lead to it losing its license to operate in the region.

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