Ladbrokes fined for serious breaches of industry code in Australia

Ladbrokes has been fined for three breaches of the sports betting industry code.
Ladbrokes has been fined for three breaches of the sports betting industry code.

The NT Racing Commission has fined Ladbrokes $78,540 for three breaches.

Australia.- The Northern Territory Racing Commission, which regulates almost all online betting companies in Australia, has imposed three fines at the maximum penalty rate against Ladbrokes. The fines totalling AU$78,540 were issued for serious breaches of the industry code.

The regulator found that Ladbrokes failed to limit the damage caused by a financial adviser who stole from his clients for his gambling addiction. Gavin Fineff pleaded guilty to multiple fraud-related offences at the New South Wales district court and is awaiting sentencing. He lost more than AU$8m on sports betting, much of which belonged to friends and clients, some of them elderly and vulnerable.

The commission found Ladbrokes failed to investigate whether Fineff could afford his bets or the source of his money. Instead, the company enticed him to spend more money with bonuses worth AU$528,890.

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The NTRC stated: “The gambler was actively targeted by a Ladbrokes’ Business Development manager due to his knowledge or the knowledge of his supervisor that the gambler had been sustaining heavy gambling losses with another bookmaker. 

“Rather than making any inquiries of substance as to whether the Gambler could afford to gamble to these levels, Ladbrokes encouraged the gambler to open a betting account with it by providing attractive bonus and deposit rebate incentives as an inducement to open a betting account and appears to have been more focused on realising its own profits from the gambler rather than ensuring that it was providing a responsible gambling environment.” 

The NTRC found that Fineff had already sustained multimillion-dollar losses with other bookmakers before he opened an account with Ladbrokes using a pseudonym. It found that the gambler’s true identity was verified by Ladbrokes.

Entain, Ladbrokes’ London-listed parent company, has accepted the NTRC ruling, which focused on interactions between a former VIP manager and a former customer between 2017 and 2019.

Financial Counselling Australia’s director of Policy and Campaigns, Lauren Levin, told The Guardian Ladbrokes “failed its legal and moral duty to protect a customer who was clearly and knowingly at risk.” 

She said the NTRC’s judgment was “the most significant decision of the decade” and could set a precedent for gambling companies being required to investigate whether customers can afford bets before they are accepted.

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