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Silvia Pavlof March 20, 2023 3 min read
Father of Three from South Wales Blames William Hill for Gambling Addiction
The addict, who has asked to be referred to as Matthew, claimed he accumulated over GBP70,000 ($85,295) in debt with the bookmaker between 2012 and 2019
BBC News reported that bookmaker William Hill has been accused by a gambling addict of not doing enough to help him stop betting while he was staking thousands of pounds on single bets. According to gambling rules, bookmakers are required to intervene at signs of distress.
Father of Three and Teacher from South Wales Struggles with Gambling Addiction and Debt
Matthew, who is a father of three and a teacher from South Wales, started off by staking small amounts on major events such as the Grand National. However, he quickly started opening online accounts and taking advantage of free bets.
He said he “chased” small losses, leading to his stakes increasing from a few pounds to GBP10,000 ($12,187) at once. William Hill made him a gold customer in its VIP scheme, and he soon started staking his GBP2,300 ($2,803) a month take-home salary on payday.
In the Radio 4 documentary “Desperate Calls,” Matthew reviewed 89 phone conversations with William Hill. He frequently used the “Quick Cash” service to withdraw money directly from the bookmaker without waiting for funds to clear in his bank account. Matthew would often leave the betting shop with GBP5,000 ($6,093) in cash and made many of these calls from a nearby phone box. He was spending so much on gambling that he couldn’t pay his mobile phone bill.
William Hill said Matthew won and withdrew thousands from his account, but he would re-stake those winnings almost immediately. His life revolved around gambling, and he struggled to recall much of the last decade, except for dark thoughts, severe lows, and occasional highs. He still owes GBP70,000 ($85,295) to family and friends, and many of his calls to William Hill showed him angry and upset.
William Hill Denies Safer Gambling Procedure Failures Despite Previous Fine
According to the Gambling Commission, operators should intervene if they identify problem gamblers showing signs of distress. However, Matthew claimed that William Hill did not check on these points and allowed him to continue betting.
William Hill’s due diligence team called Matthew after he asked to self-exclude due to a lack of free bets. The staff member discussed self-exclusion and other ways to curb his gambling but allowed him to continue because he thought the complaint was about service and free bets, not social responsibility.
It reached a point where Matthew knew he had to stop gambling, and his family took him to their doctor. Since then, he has undergone counseling to treat his gambling disorder. He wrote a letter of complaint to William Hill after the cycle of gambling was broken, and he analyzed a mountain of data obtained under a subject access request.
William Hill denied any failures in its safer gambling procedures and emphasized its commitment to preventing gambling-related harm. However, it was fined in 2018 by the UK regulator for not protecting consumers, with many cases resembling Matthew’s and happening around the same period.
A UK government white paper is due to be published soon, with recommendations for strict affordability checks and a new ombudsman for consumer complaints expected.
Silvia has dabbled in all sorts of writing – from content writing for social media to movie scripts. She has a Bachelor's in Screenwriting and experience in marketing and producing documentary films. With her background as a customer support agent within the gambling industry, she brings valuable insight to the Gambling News writers’ team.