Ladbrokes have always had a rather lax approach to their activities. No, don’t think we mean their professionalism. It’s rather the laidback manner their staff always treated their customers with, and it’s not a bad thing at all. And yet, whether out of oversight or with intent, Ladbrokes has broken a few gaming regulations. And if you ask Belgium, it’s not a case of ‘break a few eggs to make an omelette.’
Why the Commotion?
Ladbrokes is reported to have admitted to accepting bets from Belgium gamers who have been placing money on virtual machine events all through March 14, 2018. Now, you may wonder what’s the matter with that? Well, simple! Virtual machines are tantamount to fantasy sports betting and that’s practically a no-no in the eyes of the Belgian legislation. As a result Ladbrokes will remain closed on September 3.
This type of betting has been outlawed since June 2017, making what Ladbrokes did a crime. But rather than coming down hard on the bookie, Belgium has decided to issue a brief reprimand and ask the bookmaker to stop their activities for a single day. Now, this is not too bad as far as breaking the law goes.
However, even a single day of stopping their activity may be enough to dent the company’s coffers. With 300 agencies and 100 operating sportsbooks in Belgium (or linked thereof), the bookie will be looking at some rather unpalatable week day.
Meanwhile, the findings of the investigation indicated that Ladbrokes didn’t contest the issue at all, owing up to the investigators.
What About Little Grace?
Even though Ladbrokes have made the most contrite culprit, the company was still unhappy with how the case was handled by the government. The regulators basically released the news to the media at the same time the letter came to Ladbrokes.
And yet, it’s difficult to take the bookie’s case, too, if they knowingly took bets that were already outlawed. With this in mind, Ladbrokes’ determination to even entertain the idea of challenging the penalty seem rather bold.
It also raises a serious question – at what point do bookmakers take their misdeeds seriously? Whilst none wants to see a major bookie flounder, it’s difficult to endorse their business models if they are caught red-handed and state that they would contest any attempt to punish them.
The light way the Belgian government chose to handle the issue doesn’t mean that Ladbrokes has a carte blanche to throw a tantrum fit. Do so and it may suffer graver consequences, even though the country’s regulators are not in the business of meting out punishment for the sake of retribution. If anything, Ladbrokes have proven quite adept at rooting out bad practices.
The Big Picture
And yet, this raises serious questions as to the question how seriously should bookmakers be punished if they knowingly take illegal bets. Ladbrokes certainly had an easy run at it. A light decision such as this may encourage others to attempt the same and when they get caught – they could always point to Ladbrokes’ case for reference. Firm action is necessary.