Compensation claims amounting to £1.5 million have been lodged against two of the UK’s largest bookmakers for failing to stop a problem gambler from spending hundreds of thousands of pounds in stolen money to fund his gambling addiction. The funds were stolen from clients located in Dubai.
Gambler Bet £650,000 in Stolen Cash at William Hill
The addict reportedly staked a whopping £650,000 and lost £150,000 in two William Hill shops within a six-month period. He spent more than £50,000 in bets in one day on two occasions, placing hundreds of £1000 bets on greyhound and horse races in short intervals. The amounts were obtained from betting shop records seen by the Guardian.
The gambler said he went to William Hill stores with sports bags full of cash. He asked them to be placed behind the counter for safekeeping. He then withdrew money whenever he wanted to place bets.
In an interview with the Metropolitan police in April, the addict, who refused to be named, confided that he stole the money from clients in the property industry in Dubai where he was working. He has not been charged under the condition that he must help his victims seek compensation from the bookmakers. The gambler cannot go back to Dubai due to a criminal offence involving a dishonored cheque.
William Hill Breached Anti-Money Laundering Rules
Under the UK’s gambling laws, bookmakers have an obligation to ask high stake gamblers about the source of their funds. They should also not be allowed to gamble more than they can afford.
According to documents handed to the Guardian, William Hill staff filed internal reports in relation to the addict’s level of betting and had asked him if he was comfortable with it, but the company allowed the addict to gamble £458,000 in three months until September 20, 2016, before asking him about the source of his funds.
Victims are seeking £600,000 in compensation claims against William Hill. Mackrell Turner Garrett, the law firm representing the victims, alleged that the bookmaker breached anti-money laundering rules and failed to intervene to stop problem gambling.
The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) is refusing to issue any comment on the matter, but it’s understood the regulator is currently investigating the claims.
According to a spokesperson for William Hill, the company is aware of the allegations and is gathering more information. There is also no existing criminal offence filed against the gambler in relation to the alleged thefts.
Previous Violations
This is not the first time that the bookmaker has been at the center of allegations involving problem gamblers. Earlier this year, the company was slapped with a huge fine of £6.2 million by the UKGC for violating social responsibility and anti-money laundering regulations.
The bookmaker failed to spot warning signs of problem gambling exhibited by some customers, resulting in huge amounts of crime proceeds being used in placing bets. The regulator cited “systemic failing” at William Hill spanning nearly two years leading to serious violations.
Paddy Power Faces £965,000 in Compensation Claims
Two other victims of the addict’s thefts have filed a separate claim worth £965,000 against Paddy Power. The bookmaker reached a £2.2 million regulatory settlement with UKGC over allowing stolen money to be used in placing bets, including that of the unnamed addict.
Paddy Power could have voluntarily returned the money to the victims as part of the regulatory settlement, but the bookmaker failed to do so.
Gambling Addict To Assist His Victims
The addict enrolled in Gordon Moody Association’s residential treatment programme and received treatment for his gambling addiction. He offered to help his victims get their money back and expose the irresponsible behavior of gambling companies.
The addict said he wants to raise awareness of the risks posed by problem gambling and that help is available for people struggling with gambling addiction.The addict said he is prepared to face any criminal action.
Lawyers representing the victims had threatened to sue the bookmakers unless a voluntary settlement deal was reached at a specified deadline. No agreement was reached and that deadline has now expired.
Mackrell partner James Atton expressed his disappointment at Paddy Power and the UKGC’s failure to engage with the victims despite publicly stating their commitment to deal with the problem.

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