Gambling company Ladbrokes paid almost £1m to the victims of a problem gambler who stole their money to fuel his addiction.
The betting company paid the money on the condition that they would not be reported to industry regulator, the Gambling Commission.
Over two years Ladbrokes lavished thousands of pounds worth of gifts – including a trip to Las Vegas – on the addict, in order to encourage his high-stakes gambling.
The UK gambler, who owned a property business, said he stole from his clients to fuel a habit, which cost him up to £60,000 in one day.
When he told his Ladbroke’s account manager that he feared he had a problem, the company took no action.
Instead, the gambler received text messages telling him not to worry about the regulator.
Another read: “Morning mate, I’ve put a £5k bonus in your sports account for you.”
Over the course of two years, Ladbrokes had given him generous incentives to continue gambling.
Football and boxing-match tickets, an invitation to Royal Ascot, business-class flights, Fortnum & Mason hampers, and thousands of pounds were all used to keep him spending money.
The gambler said: “The scary thing is that the increase in time and money I spent gambling was huge. I cannot believe it was not noticed and checked. I should have been asked questions.”
When five of his victims accused Ladbrokes of accepting stolen money, it paid them £975,000 on the condition they agreed “not to bring any complaint or make any report to any regulator in relation to the claim”.
The Gambling Commission have said: “We have clear expectations of all operating and individual personal management licence holders, we expect them 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.”
The gambler is receiving treatment for his addiction.