Ladbrokes Coral defends problem gambling record after Panorama investigation
GVC Holdings defended its problem gambling record after Ladbrokes featured in a BBC Panorama episode highlighting the industry-wide issue.
The 30-minute programme, titled Addicted to Gambling and hosted by Bronagh Munro, told the story of three problem gamblers, including one who stole £3 million from work clients to continue his betting addiction, with the majority of his bets placed with Ladbrokes.
The problem gambler told Panorama that Ladbrokes made him a VIP customer, providing him with free bets plus tickets and hospitality to sporting events.
Last month the Gambling Commission imposed a £5.9m penalty on GVC Holdings, one of the largest fines, over “systemic failings” at the company to protect vulnerable customers who lost large amounts of money between November 2014 and October 2017, after which the current owners completed their acquisition of Ladbrokes Coral in March 2018.
And the parent company of Ladbrokes Coral believe they are now at the forefront of improving standards for protecting problem gamblers.
A GVC statement said: “The case featured by Panorama dates back to 2013-2016, prior to the acquisition of Ladbrokes Coral by GVC in 2018. 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.
“These efforts culminated in the launch of GVC’s industry-leading Changing for the Bettor responsible gambling strategy in January 2019, which encapsulates a comprehensive package of measures designed to better understand the issues around problem gambling and to protect and treat vulnerable individuals.
“As an industry we have acknowledged the need to improve in the area of safer gaming, and collectively we have made huge strides in the past 12 months addressing areas such as marketing, with the introduction of the whistle-to-whistle advertising ban, the ‘big five’s’ commitment to a ten-fold increase into research, education and treatment, and on interventions through progress on developing industry wide markers for harm and safer gambling tools.
"In each of these areas GVC is at the forefront of improving standards."
There were a record 8,266 complaints to the industry regulator in 2018 compared with 1,990 in 2014 when the Gambling Commission, which has undertaken more than 307 investigations and issued penalties of almost £40m in the last three years, started to regulate all online gambling available for customers in Britain.
Last month five of Britain’s biggest betting firms – bet365, Sky Bet, William Hill and the owners of Ladbrokes Coral and Paddy Power Betfair – agreed to increase their voluntary contribution to treatment and research of problem gambling from 0.1 per cent of their gross profits to one per cent over the next five years and are set to make a long term costed plan by the end of the year
A spokesperson for 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.
“We're working to make Britain’s gambling market the fairest and safest in the world, but we cannot do it alone. This is why, alongside health bodies and other key stakeholders, we have launched the National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms to drive a focused effort on spotting and treating gambling harms.”
Gambling Commission complaints
The Remote Gambling Association said: “Our members are fully committed to operating sustainable businesses that properly identify risk and better protect customers.
“We have already introduced a range of measures to assure customers of a safe, fair and enjoyable environment and we are developing new affordability checks to ensure customers only bet what they can afford.
“We will continue to strive to ensure the most effective and safest gambling systems are in place.”
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