Online gambling firm closes following 'tragic case' of punter who gambled £4m
An online gambling operator allowed a customer to gamble more than £4 million in the space of a few months without checks before he took his own life.
A Gambling Commission investigation into PT Entertainment Services (PTES), a subsidiary of Playtech that ran Titanbet and Winner, began after the regulator was contacted by the family of the man who had died in April 2017, aged 25.
The commission found that the operator, which closed during the investigation, failed to carry out any responsible gambling customer interactions on the man, named by the Daily Mail as Chris Bruney, even though it was aware that several of his debit card transactions had been declined.
He was also provided with VIP status without verifying that he could afford to spend the amounts of money he was playing with.
On December 29, 2016, an internal email was sent pointing out that the customer had incurred a net loss of £22,000 and that PTES did not know his occupation.
However, the regulator said PTES gave "no consideration" to social responsibility or problem gambling checks and instead invited him to take part in a promotion with the chance to win more than £3.5m.
During the period between December 26 2016 and April 2017, the customer bet a total of £4,458,782, with a total win of £4,465,007, on roulette and blackjack live and in the period between April 1 and 5 2017 he deposited and lost £119,395.
PTES would have faced a financial penalty of £3.5m from the Commission if it had not surrendered its licence.
Before then, PTES made a number of financial settlement offers which the Commission regarded as "seriously deficient".
PTES proceeded to donate £619,395 to charity while Playtech has also pledged to donate a total of £5m to mental health and gambling-related harm charities over the next five years.
Gambling Commission chief executive Neil McArthur said: "This is a tragic case which came to light after I was contacted by the family of the young man who very sadly took his own life.
"I want to thank them for their bravery in bringing his case to our attention and we are grateful for the way they have worked with us in such terrible circumstances so that we could understand what happened."
McArthur said the case again highlighted the issues surrounding so-called 'VIP' accounts.
He said: "Although PTES has ceased trading we decided to complete our investigation and publish our findings, as the lessons from this tragic case must be learned by all operators.
"Our investigations into the role played by key individuals at PTES are continuing. As such, it would be inappropriate to say more about the specific case at this time.
"This case – like so many others we have seen – illustrates why the management of so-called 'high value customers' has to change. Operators must do everything in their power to interact with customers responsibly. We will shortly be opening a consultation to make permanent changes to the way operators recruit and incentivise high value customers."
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