The owners of Betfred have been criticized because of their ties to both the flagship British betting company and Health Assured, a company with multiple government contracts, some of which pertain to gambling treatment.
Betfred Takes Flak for Owning Addiction Treatment Business
The names of Betfred owners Fred and Peter Done have been cited in a new development related to the treatment of gambling addicts, the Guardian reported. According to the newspaper, the brothers, who are also big Tory donors, have been making millions off the treatment of gambling addicts.
The pair are owners of Health Assured, which is a government-picked company tasked with the provision of health and well-being services to staff. Amid the dozens of contracts, several arrangements targeting the treatment of gambling addicts have surfaced prompting indignation.
According to The Guardian’s report the Dones have claimed £5.2 million in dividends from their health business so far. The newspaper also noted that the brothers have donated £375,000 to the Conservative Party since 2016.
MPs and Government Officials Criticize the Arrangement as Cynical
A number of government officials and MPs have spoken against the arrangement, including Jon Ashworth, the shadow health secretary, who stated outright that the Dones’ brothers had an “unacceptable conflict of interest, “ providing both betting products as well as treatment to vulnerable players.
The National Health System (NHS) chief, Claire Murdoch chimed in speaking of “tokenism” and “hypocrisy,” and that measures would need to be taken. According to The Guardian’s analysis, the services provided by Health Assured may be reaching tens of thousands of government employees as of this moment.
Murdoch urged players who experience issues with gambling to visit one of the newly set-up NHS clinics offering gambling problems help. Murdoch has also been vociferous in urging gambling companies to avoid trying to retain players who exhibit problem gambling issues.
Protect the Mental Health of the Nation
In a recent letter addressed to gambling bosses, Murdoch said that she has seen first-hand the devastating effects that gambling addiction could have on mental and financial well-being. This view is also shared by Gambling Commission boss Arthur McNeil who just this week announced a credit cards gambling ban, citing concerns about the financial well-being of players.
Murdoch stressed on addiction in general, explaining that whatever the source of the addiction – drugs, drinks or gambling – should be addressed and be a national concern. Another critic, Ian Duncan Smith, who is the chair of a cross-party gambling group, said that it was cynical to both create a problem and try to amend it.
Previous Critics Towards Betfred in the Past
Betfred has been criticized on several other occasions as well. Last year, the company reportedly underestimated the pay it owed to employees and ended up underpaying without notifying staff members once the mistake was discovered.
In October, 2019, the company was slapped with a £322,000 fine by the UK Gambling Commission, after failing to meet money laundering norms. The company was also affected by the introduction of the fixed-odds sports betting terminals restrictions, with Betfred estimating that it might close down up to 500 shops.
It’s worth noting, however that Betfred and Health Assured operate as completely separate businesses with no legal ties outside of their owners. Yet this detail has been enough to prompt criticism.