The British betting and gaming firm Ladbrokes Coral is likely to avoid a fine for advising a problem gambler and the victims of a £1m fraud that they would only be rewarded if they did not report the case to the regulator.
The Gambling Commission started investigating Ladbrokes after it was discovered that the firm persuaded gambling addict Tony Parente, along with the people he stole from, to sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA).
The regulator gave “guidance” to businesses on their use of NDAs and told Parente that it was “satisfied that the NDA you were signatory of did not breach any of our licence conditions or regulatory requirements.” Ladbrokes showered Parente with gifts worth thousands of pounds over two years as he lost up to £ 60,000 a day with cash that he later admitted having stolen.
Labour MP Carolyn Harris said the decision that the NDA could not be fine Ladbrokes showed that the commission was not fit for purpose. “Until we reshape the gambling regulations in this country, the industry will continue to exploit and hold vulnerable gamblers to ransom,” she said.
She added that the commission was “complicit in what is actually abuse – of power and of individuals.”
“In this particular instance the full details were reported by the operator and we have since issued them with advice over their conduct regarding NDAs. We have also ensured that all future NDAs make clear that parties to the agreement can inform the relevant regulator,” the commission said.
Ladbrokes could still be fined for enticing Parente to keep betting on losses and incentives with free gifts, cashback. “We are still to conclude all matters relating to this individual and are unable to comment further at this stage,” the commission said.