Mr. Philip Kolvin KC, a barrister for Betfair, appeared at a pre-inquest review at Leicester Coroner’s Court and stated that the gambling firm “did not bombard” a man with enticing gambling promotions before he died.
Luke Ashton, 40, traveled more than 100 miles from his home in Leicester and took his own life in an apartment in Swinton, South Yorkshire, on April 22, 2021, after developing a gambling addiction. Previously, the father-of-two had cleared all his debts from betting and had not gambled for two years until the Covid-19 lockdown hit.
His wife Annie Ashton, 39, blames betting companies for her husband’s death stating that Luke Ashton was “consumed” by Betfair app bonuses. She stated that Luke Ashton’s death occurred just four months after an unknown gambling company sent an email to her husband offering him a free bet.
Ms. Ashton launched a petition before the UK Parliament asking the respective authorities to ban free bets, which she is calling Luke’s Law. The petition has already gathered more than 15,000 signatures and if it manages to collect 100,000 signatures, a debate has to be held on the issue in the House of Commons.
Ms. Ashton stated that her husband had been encouraged multiple times to keep placing wagers by offering him free bets.
Betfair Did Not Bombard Mr. Ashton
Mr. Philip Kolvin KC, who represented Betfair’s parent company, Flutter Ltd, at Leicester Coroner’s Court stated that the entity was “accountable” to rules established by the Gambling Commission. He added that there was no regulatory investigation against Flutter Ltd in relation to this tragic incident.
The barrister for Betfair further said that the betting firm “did not bombard” Mr. Ashton with gambling offers and free bets and they were available to all customers. Per Mr. Philip Kolvin KC, his client had not sent direct offers to Luke Ashton. The latter simply took advantage of a free £5 wager per calendar month, which is available to all players.
When Mr. Kolvin KC started to talk about the mental health of the late Mr. Ashton, Jesse Nicholls, who represented the family, interrupted him and asked him not to read out “personal and distressing material.” Mr. Kolvin KC apologized stating that he did not intend to cause offense.
Ivan Cartwright, area corner for Leicester and South Leicestershire, commented that the case was a difficult one and resulted in the very sad death of Luke Ashton, which will always be present in his family’s life.
The inquest is scheduled to take place over two days between April and June.