The UK Gambling Commission has been using all of its delegated power to force gambling operators to comply with regulations regarding establishing a safer environment, dishing hefty fines to companies for failing to meet their obligations, accumulating nearly $60 million from 2014 to 2019 in penalties.
VIP Status behind the Excessive Losses
Yet, this fact serves as no consolation to the family of Chris Bruney, a 25-year-old young man who committed suicide in April 2017, having lost £34,000 on two websites operated by PT Entertainment Services. The Gambling Commission informed them that the company violated the rules for awarding a VIP status for their son, facing £3.5 million in financial sanctions, but as it surrendered its license during the inquiry, the potential for penalty was avoided.
Despite the parent company, Playtech, pledging to donate £5 million to charities over the next five years, the Bruney family members were utterly disappointed at the outcome, expressing their frustration in a statement.
“We found the courage to start this investigation and our trust has been betrayed. We want answers as to how the Gambling Commission allowed the company to close down before there were regulatory actions. We want Playtech to pay the proper fine of £3.5m and for individuals to be held to account.”The Bruney Family
The Gambling Commission outlined its stance to engage in consultations with the industry to implement permanent changes to the way gambling operators recruit and incentivise their high value customers, as its investigation into the case found out the company gave no consideration to problem gambling checks.
“…This case – like so many others we have seen – illustrates why the management of so-called ‘high value customers’ has to change. Operators must do everything in their power to interact with customers responsibly…”Neil McArthur, CEO, UK Gambling Commission
That stance from the country’s gambling regulator serves only as a confirmation for the Charity Gambling with Lives, a support organization for families that have been bereaved by gambling-related suicides, which claimed people have been groomed by VIP schemes to gamble intensively, irrespectively of showing signs of gambling disorder, and called for VIP schemes to be banned.
Playtech Accepted Failure, Pledging to Donate
In their defense, Playtech pointed out that both winner.co.uk and titanbet.co.uk, the two websites Mr. Bruney used to gamble, were scheduled to be taken down even before the launch of the investigation by the Gambling Commission, and the Playtech’s operating license was due to expire in October 2019.
An official spokesperson for the company said it had since invested significantly to avoid repetition of the same type of operational breach, accepting that the company’s action back then fell short of the high standards it sets itself.