UK-listed GVC Holdings could be forced to pay a huge price for the misdoings of its Ladbrokes brand.
Since Monday, the company’s shares have dropped after a report by The Guardian revealed Ladbrokes was trying to hide some shady deals from UK regulators.
The report revealed the British bookmaker paid almost £1 million to five individuals whose money was stolen by one of the company’s VIP customers.
It is understood the client went on to lose all the stolen money while gambling at Ladbrokes.
Ladbroke decided to pay the money with a condition that the five recipients “agree not to bring any complaint or make any report to any regulator in relation to the claim”.
The spokesperson for the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) said the watchdog was “enquiring into this matter to ascertain the full circumstances”.
He indicated the licensees are expected “to work with us in an open and cooperative way including the need to disclose to us anything which we would reasonably expect to know”.
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The report stated evidence includes text messages that prove Ladbrokes showered the VIP customer with incentives, such as four-figure credits to his gambling account, air travel to attend high-profile sports events and luxury hampers as Christmas gifts.
Other texts revealed that the gambler’s assigned account manager made almost no effort to conform to UKGC ‘source of funds’ rules.
Even after the VIP went on a wagering hiatus for five months due to addiction problems, the Ladbrokes rep continued to give the customer rewards.
Despite being a signatory to the payment agreement, the gambler who broke the confidentiality requirement did so partly because he believes that Ladbrokes “has no respect for their codes of practice”.
It was “a standard provision of such settlement agreements that the parties keep its content confidential,” said a Ladbrokes spokesperson.
They added that the bookie “notified the [UKGC] of this case at the relevant time and will continue to co-operate with our regulator”.