Whistleblower accuses Ladbrokes of undermining efforts to control problem gambling

The UK’s biggest bookmaker is putting profits before the protection of gamblers, according to a former employee.

The whistleblower told The Times newspaper that Ladbrokes Coral is encouraging shop workers to target customers to spend more on Fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs).

FOBTs, known as the ‘crack cocaine’ of gambling, enable gamblers to bet up to £100 every 20 seconds.

‘Bet more’

The GambleAware organisation has previously estimated that the numbers of problem gamblers lie at around 250,000 in Britain – with 470,000 more at risk.

The former employee said that a bonus culture was undermining the regulator’s attempts to control problem gambling.

“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 added: “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.”

‘Keep them spinning’

The whistleblower went on to say that customers were being targeted by shop workers to raise their stakes closer to the maximum bet of £100.

In 2015, the Government introduced rules which meant that players had to register before they could bet more than £50 a spin. But according to the insider, managers were sent a document called “Keep them spinning, £50+ stakes” which gave tips on how to get customers to bet more.

Staff members were given a £20 bonus for every customer they signed up.

Billions lost

In 2016, a Gambling Commission report revealed that gamblers lost £13.6 billion through betting between April 2015 and March 2016, up nearly 21 per cent from the previous period.

FOBTs raked in £1.7 billion for the UK gambling industry, equating to almost 13 per cent of total industry earnings.

There have previously been calls, backed by 92 local councils, for the maximum FOBT stake of £100 to be lowered to £2.

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