Ladbrokes Coral Fined £2.3 Million for ‘Social Responsibility Failures’ with Problem Gamblers

Posted on: November 7, 2017, 05:00h. 

Last updated on: November 7, 2017, 05:05h.

The UK Gambling Commission has issued a £2.3 million ($3 million) fine against Ladbrokes Coral, after the company failed to stop two customers from gambling and losing about £1.3 million ($1.7 million) in stolen funds. The bets were taken through Gala Interactive online gambling sites.

Ladbrokes Coral CEO Jim Mullen
Ladbrokes Coral CEO Jim Mullen accepted the UK Gambling Commission’s fine, saying his company had failed to meet responsible gaming standards. (Image: Mike Abrahams / Getty)

The two gamblers in question have both been sentenced for crimes related to how they acquired their bankrolls. One received four years in jail for stealing from their employer, while the other was sentenced to 4.5 years for acquiring, using, or possessing criminal property.

Each played over the course of many months, losing massive sums at the Gala Interactive sites. One played for 14 months, losing £837,545 ($1.1 million), while the other gambled away £432,765 ($570,000) over an 11-month period.

Commission Says Gala Failed to Recognize Problem Behavior

Regulators pounced on the company for failing to have proper safeguards in place to realize something was amiss with the two high-rolling customers. They noted that the firm had failed to develop written policies and procedures that would have required employees to step in and prevent the situation from developing further.

The UKGC also noted that this wasn’t the first time Gala had been chastised for failures related to problem gambling.

“An aggravating factor was that during a previous case regarding similar failings, Gala told the commission that customers of concern would be identified sooner and effectively handled,” the commission said. “This assurance was made during the same time that both these customers were gambling with Gala.”

Fine Will Help Fund Problem Gambling Research

The fine will see Ladbrokes Coral pay £1.3 million to victims of the customers, with an additional £1 million ($1.31 million) used to fund research looking into the root causes of problem gambling. The company has also said they will chip in an additional £200,000 ($262,000) towards that research as a show of good faith.

According to Ladbrokes Coral CEO Jim Mullen, the fine was a fair decision that reflected failures on the part of his company.

“Running a gambling company carries a huge responsibility to ensure that it is done so in a safe and responsible manner,” Mullen said. “When and part of our business fails to meet the required standards, it is right that they are held to account. In the two cases reviewed with the commission, it was clear that within our operations, we had not met our own standards or those demanded by the commission.”

While this fine is significant, it pales in comparison to the record £7.8 million ($10.24 million) penalty the UKGC imposed on 888 earlier this year. That fine came after discovery that 888 had allowed thousands of players who had self-excluded themselves from 888 websites to continue gambling.

These fines come at a time when the UK is considering changes to how it oversees the gaming industry. A recent review of the sector was mainly noted for its proposal to lower limits on fixed-odds betting terminals, but also included a call for the industry to do a better job of identifying and addressing problem gamblers.