Bookmakers' bank accounts shut by HSBC
Banking giant HSBC has denied it has made any policy change regarding the personal accounts of those involved in the betting industry after reports emerged of bookmakers having their banking facilities withdrawn.
In 2014, HSBC said it had taken a decision to limit its involvement with the gambling sector, having closed the business accounts of a number of on-course and independent bookmakers.
However, Paul Goodyear, who runs the independent betting shop chain BGbet, contacted the Racing Post this week to say not only had his personal account been closed but also those of his immediate family, including his father Brian, who was himself a bookmaker.
He said on Friday: "We were part of the first wave when HSBC decided that they weren't comfortable being involved with gambling.
"We got that sorted out, but we kept our personal accounts with HSBC. My dad kept his personal account with them because he had been banking with them for 50 years. He's introduced all his family members to HSBC.
"On the same day both my father and I got a standard letter just stating that, in line with their terms and conditions, they are closing our bank accounts and we've got 60 days' notice to find alternative banking arrangements."
Goodyear said he had contacted HSBC but had not been given a reason for the closure.
He went on: "Two weeks later my brother got a letter, my sister got a letter and then my sister and her partner got a letter because they've got a joint account.
'Nothing to do with the business'
"He's not involved in the business at all. My sister is a shareholder and does a couple of day's admin for the company. My brother's a shareholder but he's nothing to do with the business.
"My father sold his bookmaker business to Coral in 2006 and hasn't held a licence since that day and has no shares in the new company. He sees it as a bit of a witchhunt really, his words are, 'it's disgraceful'."
Asked if he thought his involvement in bookmaking was the reason for the closures Goodyear, whose eight-shop operation is based in Kettering, said: "I can't think of anything else."
Robin Grossmith, chairman of the Rails Bookmakers Association and director of the Federation of Racecourse Bookmakers, revealed he and his wife had received a letter from HSBC this week saying it was no longer able to provide them with banking products and services.
Grossmith, who has banked with the Midland Bank and then HSBC for more than 40 years and whose business account was closed by them last year, said on Friday: "Yesterday morning I got a letter from HSBC closing all of my accounts. Nothing to do with the [bookmaking] business. They've closed my wife's personal account as well."
'Obviously a purge'
As with Goodyear, HSBC did not give a reason to Grossmith for its actions.
"I've never had a loan or an overdraft. I've always had money in the bank," he added.
"It's obviously a purge that they are having again. Anyone associated [with bookmaking] in any way."
However, a spokesman for HSBC denied there was any new wave of account closures involving the betting industry.
He was unwilling to discuss the possible reasons for the closure of personal accounts, but added: "There has been no change of policy with regard to the personal accounts of those operating within the betting industry."