A UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) investigation that found systemic failures on player protection at gaming company PT Entertainment Services has been published.
PTES, which has since closed, had traded as www.winner.co.uk and titanbet.co.uk, but they came under investigation when the UKGC were contacted by the family of a gambler who took his own life in April 2017, at the age of 25.
During the investigation, PTES surrendered its licence but the UKGC took the decision to complete its investigation and to publish its findings, saying that it was clearly in the public interest to do so. The UKGC found serious and systematic failings in the way that PTES managed its social responsibility policies and its anti-money laundering processes.
In the tragic case of the individual whose suicide sparked the investigation, the UKGC found that the operator had failed to conduct any responsible gambling customer interactions despite the fact that a number of his debit card transactions had been declined. PTES also reportedly gave him VIP status without verifying the affordability of his gambling.
In addition, the investigation also found widespread failings in the way PTES interacted with its top spending customers. These failures occurred between May 2015 and September 2017. During the period 2016-2017, PTES had an active customer list of 240,126, but only 633 received responsible gambling emails from the company.
The UKGC noted that PTES had made a number of offers of financial settlement prior to giving up its operating licence. The company eventually donated £619,395 to a charity working to reduce gambling harms, while parent company Playtech has pledged to donate £5 million to gambling charities.
The regulator also stated that if the licence had not been surrendered, they would have imposed a penalty of at least £3.5 million. The investigations into PTES are not, however, at an end, as the regulator is still probing the actions of a number of key figures at the company, who still hold personal licences to operate gambling businesses.
Speaking about the case, the Chief Executive at the Gambling Commission, Neil McArthur, thanked the family of the victim for approaching them and for working with them, and emphasised that this was not the end of their investigations:
“Although PTES has ceased trading we decided to complete our investigation and publish our findings, as the lessons from this tragic case must be learned by all operators. Our investigations into the role played by key individuals at PTES are continuing. As such, it would be inappropriate to say more about the specific case at this time.”
He added that the case emphasised that the current approach to managing high spending customers had to change. He emphasised that betting companies had to do all they could to interact with their customers responsibly and outlined that the UKGC will shortly be launching a consultation to make permanent changes in the rules on the way that operators recruit high value gamblers.