Ladbrokes avoids getting fine over £1m theft

Viktor Vangelov | Published 29 Oct 2019, 1:49 p.m.

The UK Gambling Commission has been particularly active in combating problem gambling lately. You have surely noticed that many of our news articles have covered this issue or related ones. At the beginning of last month, representatives of gambling operators attended a hearing at Westminster, an event organised by an All Party Parliamentary Group that deals with gambling harm and related issues.

Many UK operators have been fined by the UK Gambling Commission in the past 12 months. Ladbrokes Coral were fined this summer with a pretty hefty fine of £5.9 million and the fines of all operators combined amounted to £19.6 million.

Ladbrokes is in the limelight again, but this time the operator managed to escape a fine. Reportedly, the company asked a victim of theft to keep quite about the event, i.e. not to report it to the regulator and in return, the operator agreed to compensate them. The reason why the operator was responsible and supposed to compensate is that the reported £1m theft was made by a customer with a gambling problem who used the funds to gamble at Ladbrokes.

Tony Parente stole almost a million to gamble

The UK Gambling Commission began investigating the said matter last year, after the case was made public. The person with a gambling problem in question, Tony Parente, admitted stealing the money and the company asked him and his victims to sign a non-disclosure agreement in order to get compensated. The Commission has previously issued guidelines for operators regarding the use of non-disclosure agreements, in this case it has already notified Parente that the operator will not be sanctioned for the case.

The Commission informed Parente that there the document he signed is satisfactory and doesn’t breach any of the regulatory requirements.

Labour MP not happy with the decision

It has been reported that the company which is currently owned by GVC, a company headquartered in the Isle Of Man, has sent numerous gifts to Parente, including football tickets, plane tickets over the course of two years, after they became familiar with the fact that the funds that he gambled away were stolen.

Parente was gambling over a period of two years and he was wagering away up to £60,000 daily, and he later admitted that the money was stolen. His victims complained that the company was accepting stolen money and the operator made an agreement to pay a total sum of £975,000 if all of them agreed not to complain formally or report the issue to any regulator boy. The people whose funds were stolen, a total of five of them also agreed not to help any other victims who had similar experience.

Ladbrokes were obviously satisfied with the fact that the company didn’t have to pay a fine, but others weren’t as happy. For example, Carolyn Harris, a Labour MP who chairs a cross-party group that deals with gambling related issues said that this decision shows that gambling legislation isn’t appropriate and should be amended so that the industry is no longer able to hold vulnerable gamblers.