Excessive losses may not be the only issue addicted gamblers are facing while dealing with unscrupulous operators, a story followed by The Guardian shows. In the country where the gambling market is one of the most regulated ones and the regulator is dishing hefty financial sanctions, it turns out cashing out on winnings may not be that easy and may turn costly as well. Or at least that was the case for Doug Shelley, who had been trying to withdraw £108,000 in stakes and winnings from his Betway account since April 2019.
Betway Still AML-Negligent Despite the Hefty Fine
The operator that was subjected to a record £11.6 million fine by the Gambling Commission for failings to comply with social responsibility and money laundering policies, allowed a hefty deposit, £43,000, from Mr Shelley without checking the source of the funds, and only after two winning bets more than doubled the funds in the player account, suddenly remembered its responsibilities with regards to source of funding.
Douglas Shelley is one of nine people banned from racing at a hearing in January 2013, where the central figure, jockey Andrew Heffernan, was banned for 15 years for intentionally failing to ride three horses on their merits and passing on inside information for reward. Shelley got an 8-year ban for laying one of the horses through his player account.
In April 2019, after single bets on two horses and an each-way double, Mr Shelley who openly admits to his gambling problems, thought his luck finally changed. Instead, after the winnings he initially got restricted to £1 bets on horses and after another winning bet on football, he got locked out of his Betway account and the funds in it, £108,400.
“I’m not asking anyone to feel sorry for me. I’m addicted to gambling but I’ve earned the money that I’ve spent on it, it’s not robbed or stolen. I’ve been bankrupt and not been in a good situation with the BHA, but that doesn’t make it right that someone can come along and not pay me out because I’ve had winners, or try to use my history as a reason not to pay me.”Douglas Shelley
Mr Shelley was finally paid out by Betway, the operator whose owner the Gambling Commission is refusing to reveal despite the reports of bad VIP practices that exploit gambling addictions, instead of preventing them. After a year and more than £10,000 spent on forensic analysis of his bank account and finances, prepared and certified by an independent accountant, Betway agreed to release the funds in three installments, the last one being made in May.
Whether this is a case of abuse of power is something to be decided by the respective authorities, but practices like that only vindicate the need for further regulation, and despite the industry strongly opposing the recently proposed changes by a group of MPs, including suspension of VIP schemes, it should prove it can eradicate such practices itself.