Reino Unido: A Paddy Power “encorajou o jogador até ele perder a casa, o emprego e a família”

Bookmaker Paddy Power encouraged a problem gambler to keep betting until he lost five jobs, his home and access to his children, according to a report by the Gambling Commission....

Bookmaker Paddy Power encouraged a problem gambler to keep betting until he lost five jobs, his home and access to his children, according to a report by the Gambling Commission.

The company also failed to perform sufficient checks to ensure customers were not using its betting machines to launder the proceeds of crime. The betting regulator said Paddy Power would make a voluntary payment of £280,000 to a “socially responsible” cause following its findings.

Paddy Power will also review procedures designed to prevent money laundering and problem gambling and agree to share details of its own failings with the rest of the industry. But politicians and campaigners called for a review of the industry following the report, as they warned of an out of control gambling epidemic in the UK.

In one case, Paddy Power admitted that senior staff encouraged a man with a gambling problem to keep betting despite warnings by more junior employees.

The man, referred to only as Customer A, was a frequent user of fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs), which have been referred to as the “crack cocaine” of gambling. The machines allow customers to bet up to £100 every 20 seconds on games such as roulette and blackjack, for which the odds are fixed.

In May 2014, Paddy Power staff became aware that Customer A was working five separate jobs to fund his gambling and “had no money”, the Gambling Commission said. Although he claimed to be comfortable with his level of gambling, shop staff passed their concerns up the chain to senior staff, who advised monitoring him.

Later that month, the shop manager informed a more senior member of staff that Customer A would be visiting the shop less frequently. The senior employee responded by advising that “steps should be taken to try to increase Customer A’s visits and time spent in the gambling premises”.

“This was grossly at odds with the licensing objective of preventing vulnerable people from being exploited by gambling,” said the Gambling Commission.

The shop manager “recorded some discomfort” about the senior employee’s advice, according to the commission, and staff later noticed that the customer was “spending heavily and […] looked unwell and as if he had not slept for a while”. He was only advised to seek help for gambling addiction in August 2014, when a staff member met him on the street and learned that he had lost all of his jobs, was homeless and had lost access to his children.

Paddy Power has posted a record annual pre-tax profit of €167m (£130m) and the £9bn business is set to enter the FTSE 100 index of Britain’s biggest listed companies this week after increasing its size by merging with rival Betfair. The company said: “The historical failings outlined in this report were clearly unacceptable. Paddy Power has since significantly strengthened its internal procedures and staff have been retrained to ensure these procedures are implemented effectively. Paddy Power Betfair takes its responsibilities extremely seriously and we have cooperated fully with the Gambling Commission at every stage of this process.”

But Labour MP Caroline Harris said the case was an example of a “national problem facing society” adding: “This case highlights how sections of the gambling industry appear to be virtually out of control.”

The Campaign for Fairer Gambling (CFG), said the case was evidence that some senior staff in the industry were not serious about reducing problem gambling.

“It’s happening again and again and it’s not operational staff, they’re the ones reporting it,” said spokesman Matt Zarb-Cousin. “It’s the guys at the top overriding these concerns for commercial reasons. They’re just turning a blind eye to this.”

He added that the government should launch a review into its decision to reject calls for maximum stakes on FOBTs to be dramatically reduced. The Campaign for Fairer Gambling has called for the maximum stake be cut from £100 to £2, but the government rejected the suggestion in July 2015.

The Gambling Commission also detailed two cases in which Paddy Power failed to apply money laundering controls designed to stop people using betting terminals to conceal the proceeds of crime. Criminals can use games such as roulette to launder money at a small cost, gambling experts said. For instance, someone with £100 in cash could place £48 on black, £48 on red and £2 on green, or 0. The maximum they could lose would be £4, at which point they could ask a bookmaker to put the remaining £96 on their debit card.

The money would then appear as a legitimate payment from a bookmaker, hiding the fact that it could have been cash from a criminal enterprise. The Gambling Commission said that in August 2014, a shop manager suspected that Customer B, a longstanding user of Paddy Power shops, was using gambling facilities to launder Scottish bank notes.

The manager related their suspicions to more senior members of staff on four occasions over six months. But senior staff “repeatedly overruled” the shop manager, saying that as the notes were British currency and were not stained or counterfeit, it was unlikely that the money was being laundered.

None of the suspicions were reported to the company’s money laundering reporting officer. Paddy Power only barred the customer after police raised fears that Scottish banknotes that were the proceeds of crime were being laundered in London.

Subsequent checks revealed the customer could not validate ownership of a business she claimed to belong to her. The company initially told the Gambling Commission it had followed its money laundering policy but later admitted it had not dealt with its staff members’ suspicions properly.

In a separate incident, police warned Paddy Power that Mark Cooney, who had pleaded guilty to stealing more than £250,000 from two banks where he worked, was a frequent customer of the bookmaker. Paddy Power “made no direct inquires” about how Cooney, who was eventually sentenced to 28 months in prison, had obtained the funds he used for gambling.

Source: The Guardian