Ellis Jones, Putting The Odds In Your Favour
On 31 August 2017, the Gambling Commission issued a statement confirming that 888 UK Limited has breached
social responsibility codes “as a result of serious failings in its handling of vulnerable customers”. Ellis Jones has substantial expertise in dealing with gambling-related claims and was contacted by Karen Coughlan in relation to a complaint against an online gambling firm. Karen received a refund of £133,000 within 2 weeks of the Gambling Commission’s statement.
Those who feel they are at a risk of gambling excessively are able to ‘self-exclude’ themselves from betting, which should then prevent them from placing bets with online gambling companies. Despite exercising this option, Karen remained able to place bets with an online betting site which amounted to a sum exceeding £130,000 over a 3-week period.
The gambling firm’s failure to identify Karen’s excessive gambling was a breach of its customer identification requirements and social responsibilities under the Gambling Commission’s social responsibility code. Karen is one of more than 7,000 customers who have activated the self-exclusion function and have still been allowed to continue gambling on various other sites. It was not until the Gambling Commission issued its statement that her account was suspended.
The Commission’s Statement of Principles for Licensing and Regulations specifies non-exhaustively that the duties owed to ‘vulnerable persons’ will include those who:
- spend more money and/or time gambling than they want to
- gamble beyond their means
- may not be able to make informed or balanced decisions about gambling, for example, because of health problems, learning disability, or substance misuse relating to alcohol or drugs.
The Licence Conditions and Codes of Practice (LCCP) require gambling companies to effectively identify customers whose behaviour may indicate that they are at risk of harm from gambling. In Karen’s case, the gambling firm in question failed to identify her as a vulnerable customer and was therefore in breach of its obligations. Gambling firms therefore have an obligation outside of the self-exclusion option; they have a positive duty to correctly identity those customers at risk and take
steps to prevent further bets being place, for example by suspending the customers account.
888’s failing to abide by the codes and regulation has resulted in a record penalty of £7.8 million. However, as is apparent from the refund of £133,000 awarded to Karen, the significant flaws and failings in the self-exclusion process and breaches of the LLCP identification requirements are not limited to 888.
Ellis Jones has a specialist Betting, Gambling and Gaming team to assist anyone who feels they have lost money following
attempts to self-exclude from gambling. Please call our litigation Partner, William Fox Bregman, or another member of our team on 01202 525333 for an initial no-obligation chat to discuss your case and how we may be able to assist you in recovering your losses.