William Fox Bregman

Partner, Solicitor & Head of Banking and Finance Litigation

DATE PUBLISHED: 28 Sep 2017 LAST UPDATED: 21 Feb 2024

Mental Health Gambling Refunds: Putting The Odds In Your Favour

Have you lost money to a gambling or betting operator who should not have let you place a bet in the first place? Here’s everything you need to know about getting a refund on your losses if you have a gambling addiction or related mental health issues.

Can you get a refund if you have a gambling addiction?

If you feel a gambling company has been socially irresponsible and allowed you to bet or gamble when they shouldn’t have, you may be entitled to get a refund on your losses.

This refund is, however, dependent on your ability to prove you have a gambling problem or related mental health issue and that the gambling organisation should have intervened and not allowed you to place the bet or gamble in the first place. 

This can be done in a number of ways but typically includes the individual taking actions like self-excluding themselves from betting sites or seeking further help for their problems.

How do you know if you have a gambling problem?

There are a few signs and behavioural patterns that can be an indication as to whether or not you may have a gambling addiction or related mental health issues.

The National Health Service provides guidance on gambling addictions and offers a list of simple questions to ask individuals or yourself to help determine if you have an issue or not, including; 

  • Do you bet more than you can afford to lose?
  • Do you need to gamble with larger amounts of money to get the same feeling?
  • Have you tried to win back money you have lost (chasing losses)?
  • Have you borrowed money or sold anything to get money to gamble?
  • Have you wondered whether you have a problem with gambling?
  • Has your gambling caused you any health problems, including feelings of stress or anxiety?
  • Have other people criticised your betting or told you that you had a gambling problem (regardless of whether or not you thought it was true)?
  • Has your gambling caused any financial problems for you or your household?
  • Have you ever felt guilty about the way you gamble or what happens when you gamble?

Who regulates gambling in the UK?

The Gambling Commission is the organisation that regulates gambling in Great Britain, providing gambling licenses as well as regulations and advice/guidance for both individuals and gambling operators.

They also provide online information on safer gambling, complaints about gambling businesses and common FAQs, on top of a list of licensed gambling operators in Great Britain.

This includes a wide range of gambling and betting operators from local arcades and nation casinos to online betting websites and software like apps.

How do you self-exclude yourself from betting sites?

Self-excluding yourself from betting and gambling sites can be done on a site-by-site basis or more effectively with GAMSTOP to block yourself from all betting and gambling sites at once.

This can be done by simply registering with GAMSTOP and includes gambling and betting mobile apps as well as websites, which you can exclude yourself from for a set amount of time.

Helping a client successfully recover their gambling losses

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 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 identify those customers at risk and take steps to prevent further bets being placed, 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.

Specialist mental health gambling solicitors

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. 

Get in touch with 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.

Alternatively, read more of our team’s advice on gambling addictions and mental health issues, as well as our guidance on social responsibility for betting and gambling operators.

How can we help?

When you submit this form an email will be sent to the relevant department who will contact you within 48 hours. If you require urgent advice please call 01202 525333.

Make an enquiry

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