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Ladbrokes defends claims it bent gambling rules for profits

Ladbrokes Coral defends claims it bent the rules

A former Ladbrokes Coral employee has come out against the UK-based bookmaker, claiming it weakened anti-money laundering and problem gambling rules.

The former employee, who wished to remain anonymous, has come out against the bookmaker claiming it bent the rules to increase profits. This included encouraging customers to increase bet stakes on the controversial fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs).

But Ladbrokes has fought back in a statement, saying “we place great emphasis on encouraging responsible gambling and combating attempted criminal activity,” and “we would never sanction the pursuit of profit above those responsibilities.”

The whistle-blower lost his job when Ladbrokes merged with Coral last year. He was among 700 who lost their jobs after the cull, based “purely on merit” occurred.

His revelations come at the same time MPS have called for a reduction in stakes on FOBTs, from the current £100 to £2. The insider claimed during his interview with the Times, the only way to help problem gamblers is by reducing the stakes.

“Staff get incentives that encourage punters to bet more so most are reluctant to lose profitable customers by checking whether they are betting with drugs money or intervening if they are gambling too much,” he said.

It’s no secret criminals use gambling as means to launder money, with roulette FOBTs played due to minimum losses and the ability to print winning tickets which show the funds have been obtained “legitimately”.

The UK Gambling Commission, which regulates Ladbrokes, requires bookmakers to implement techniques to prevent money laundering from occurring.

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Last year Ladbroke Coral shops made managers check where and how players got their money if they lost more than £30,000. But the whistleblower said the threshold had been increased to £50,000, which he said made it easier for criminals to launder cash.

But Ladbrokes Coral said the £30,000 threshold was altered – it was increased and decreased significantly – because a set limit did not cover genuine cases of concern.

When it comes to problem gambling, the insider said the company flouted the rules which the government introduced in 2015, where players have to register if they want to play more than £50 a spin. The rules resulted in around 85 percent of players betting less.

The insider has claimed the bookmaker sent out a document called “Keep them spinning, £50+ stakes” to shop managers which detailed ways to get customers to bet more. The retail staff were allegedly given a £20 bonus for every player they signed up.

“Bonuses for area managers are up to 40 per cent of salary so there’s a big incentive to raise revenues at almost all costs,” the source added.

“We have an ongoing campaign to sign people up to loyalty cards to track play and help customers when we see areas of potential concern,” a Ladbrokes spokesperson countered.

“The monitoring of behaviour is encouraged by our regulator because it enables us to help customers stay in control.

“By encouraging our employees to do this we are promoting responsible gambling.”

The source also slammed Ladbrokes for its lack of intervention when it comes to problem gamblers, and claimed a cup of tea was a suggested method.

Ladbrokes automatically records when a player’s card is declined, when they exceed their time or cash limits, when they spend more than £500 via card or cash, or when they make five or more transactions in one session.

The Times has reported the alarms go off just over 11,000 times a week across Ladbroke’s 1800 shops, but only 7000 – on average – result in intervention.

“We monitor many behaviours to try to assess when play is becoming potentially problematic,” a Ladbrokes spokesperson explained.

“Our trained and committed colleagues will then take the action they think necessary.”

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