Bookmaker news of the week: William Hill fined

By Martin Green16 December 2018
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The Dutch Gambling Authority (KSA) said the WilliamHill.com site was active for sports betting and online casino wagering in the Netherlands and that it could be translated into Dutch. “A player who gambles with an illegal provider does without any protection, said there is no supervision so it is impossible to ensure these companies are conducting business fairly, and that is why the KSA acts against illegal providers," said René Jansen, chairman of the executive board at the KSA. “Protecting the consumer is an important objective of the KSA, in addition to preventing gambling addiction and combating illegality.” William Hill pledged to appeal the fine as it notes that several firms are in the process of contesting similar fines from the KSA.

William Hill and Paddy Power are being sued for £1.5 million by the victims of gambling addicts who had their money stolen and gambled away. William Hill is accused of failing in its responsibility to prevent problem gambling, after allegedly failing to prevent an addict from betting outside of his means. Mackrell Turner Garrett, the law firm acting on behalf of the addict’s victims, is seeking £600,000 by way of compensation against William Hill. “We are aware of a number of allegations by [name withheld] and have been waiting for months for them to be substantiated,” said William Hill. “We continue to await this information and note he has not been subject to any police investigation or prosecution with regards to the alleged thefts.” Paddy Power faces a £965,000 claim for the same law firm for its failure to police a bettor’s activities after he embezzled £900,000 from a charity. Paddy Power has already be fined £2.2 million by the UK Gambling Commission, of which £500,000 went to the victims, but they claim they are yet to be properly compensated for the loss.

Barclays has become the first high street bank to allow customers to block payments to gambling sites via a tool on its app. The button within the app also covers pubs, bars, supermarkets, premium rate websites and phone lines, but bookmakers are likely to be the key focus. The feature is available to all Barclays debit card customers and will be rolled out to credit card holders in the near future. Marc Etches, the chief executive of GambleAware, said: “GambleAware welcomes this initiative by Barclays, which we hope will encourage other banks to do the same. There are 340,000 problem gamblers in Britain and a further 1.7 million at risk, and initiatives like this can play an important role in helping to reduce gambling-related harms.”

Gambling industry leaders have confirmed plans to ban betting ads during sporting events shown before the 9pm watershed. The Industry Group for Responsible Gambling said the ban will come into effect in 2019 and it will cover all sporting events apart from horse racing and greyhound racing, which are heavily dependent on gambling for their commercial viability. "We believe that this is itself a watershed moment as we strive to provide the ever safer gambling environment which gambling consumers and the wider public expect, and which is so important to the future success and sustainability of our industry," IGRG chair John Hagan said. “Today the gambling industry is responding positively to public concerns about the amount of gambling advertising on television before the watershed.”

The Manchester Evening News has an interesting feature on Betfred co-founder Peter Done, who rose up from the Salford slums to become a billionaire businessman. Customer service is key, according to Done, who turned the operator into a powerhouse alongside brother Fred. "In those days you never got any kind of service at a betting shop,” he says, reflecting on his early life in the industry. “If you won, the bookmaker would have a face on him and would literally throw the money at you. We thought, this is crazy because they are not going to come back, so we started to call them sir.” It clearly worked as the Done brothers are now billionaires and the business is thriving.