There was more bad news for UK betting companies this week with the announcement that a London law firm has claimed £1.5 million in compensation from William Hill and Paddy Power Betfair.
The compensation claims, originally reported in the Guardian are on behalf of victims who have been subject to theft by gambling addicts, who then used the stolen money to gamble with the named companies. The stolen money was wagered both at William Hill retail betting shops and on the Betfair Betting Exchange, and in both instances, it is alleged that the betting companies failed in their duty to take action to prevent money laundering and to react to clear signs of problem gambling.
In the case of William Hill, the unnamed gambler is reported to have gambled with £650,000 in stolen money in two retail betting shops over a period of six months losing £150,000. In representing victims of the theft, the law firm is asking for a settlement of £600,000 from William Hill, and have pointed to two occasions when the gambler bet £50,000 in a day without the company investigating. The compensation claim has been forwarded to the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC).
With the Paddy Power claim, the total compensation requested is worth £965,000; a figure that has been based on a UKGC penalty imposed on the Betfair exchange in October this year. In that case, the UKGC found that the company had not intervened to stop a gambling addict from betting with £900,000 stolen from a West Midlands charity, and so failed in its social responsibility obligations.
Under existing UK law, UKGC-licensed operators are not obliged to return stolen money used in gambling unless they are specifically ordered to by UK courts.
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