A RINGWOOD law firm has won back £100,000 from a high street betting company which allowed a man with a gambling problem to lose more than £130,000.
Ellis Jones Solicitors launched an action against the betting firm – which has not been named – on behalf of the customer who had run up the huge debt by playing online casino games including roulette, blackjack and slot machines.
The law firm claimed that the bookie had breached the Gambling Commission’s social responsibility code by failing to protect its client as a vulnerable customer.
The man, aged 32, lost just over £134,000 without the betting company checking his source of funds properly and not making sure that he was spending within his means despite him gambling large sums of money daily.
The company, according to Ellis Jones, had also failed to alert their responsible gambling department to intervene when the customer’s pattern of spending was obviously becoming “out of hand”.
Staff at gambling firms are required by the Gambling Commission to “identify – interact – evaluate” with customers and advised to initiate customer interaction when there are signs of vulnerability.
But this did not happen with the company involved in the case.
A spokesman for the law firm said: “There were a couple of ‘tick box’ conversations, but no genuine intervention to check that he was not a vulnerable customer.”
Ellis Jones Solicitors managed to win back 89% of the man’s losses, with the betting firm settling the action out of court.
The case was handled by its betting disputes team which assists clients who believe they have lost money after being treated unfairly by gambling firms.
Solicitor Henrietta Dunkley, who acted in the case, said: “This was an outstanding result in a high-value dispute with a major betting operator.
“Our client had shown very obvious signs of problem gambling for a considerable amount of time and was spending far beyond his means.
“He had lost well in excess of £100,000. We were able to persuasively argue that there had been clear failings by the betting operator.
“We were able to show that the firm had failed to protect him as a vulnerable customer and therefore breached a number of obligations set out within the Gambling Commission’s Social Responsibility Code.”
Paul Kanolik, a partner in the firm’s betting disputes team, said: “This fantastic result is reflective of a much wider recognition by the Gambling Commission and other organisations that more protection is needed for gambling customers, particularly those that display obvious signs of problem gambling.
“There has recently been a serious push by the Gambling Commission to make gambling operators more socially responsible, and so gambling operators are waking up to the fact that these claims are being made and do have merit.”
According to latest figures from the Gambling Commission, 24-million adults gambled in 2018/19, with around 10.5-million gambling online.