British gambling giant Ladbrokes will avoid a fine by the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) for a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) made with some complainants. The company told five victims of a customer with a gambling addiction who stole £1 million that the company is ready to pay back a sum of £975,000 given they sign a non-disclosure agreement with the company. According to the agreement, the complaints could not report the matter to any regulator and seek a claim.
A report in The Guardian revealed last year that the company had signed a non-disclosure agreement with a gambling addict Tony Parente and people he stole funds from. The UKGC has been investigating the company since then.
The UKGC has been vigilant of NDAs and ensured that such agreements in the future do not mandate signees to not report the matter to regulators. Interestingly, the commission has decided not to fine the firm for it. It recently wrote to Parente, informing him of the decision and suggesting that the commission is ‘satisfied’ that the Ladbrokes NDA did not violate any of the license conditions in the UK. Hence, it will not impose any sanctions against the company or fine it for its actions.
Ladbrokes is owned by GVC, an Isle of Man-based mega-firm. Parente is a gambling addict, and the company provided him several gifts worth thousands of pounds over the course of two years. He even got business class flights and free tickets to football matches by the company. However, during this time, he lost as much as £60,000 a day and had stolen the money he used to gamble with.
Five victims of Parente filed a complaint against the company for accepting stolen funds. The company paid heed to their comments and agreed to pay them back as long as they kept quiet about it. The victims were also asked not to help anyone else’s claims against the company for accepting stolen funds from its customers.
The Commission is, for its decision, and Labour MP Carolyn Harris said that the decision suggests that the commission is “complicit in what is actually abuse – of power and of individuals.” Harris chairs the cross-parliamentary group on harm related to gambling activities. She said that the industry needs a new set of gambling regulations. If it doesn’t happen, then the industry will continue to exploit gamblers.
On the other hand, the UKGC has defended its position and said that the operator provided full details and has been issued advice for their conduct.