The online casino, LeoVegas, allegedly goaded a gambling addict into spending over £20,000 on a sister site. LeoVegas is now under investigation for luring the user after bombarding him with marketing emails. The problem gambler stole money from his mother after being encouraged by the company to keep betting.
The Guardian uncovered details about the case in a new report, sparking a fresh debate around problem gambling in the country. Now anti-gambling campaigners and politicians are asking betting platforms to establish more rigorous checks that could help in warding off these troubles. In the meantime, the recovering gambling addict could still face prosecution. His account was blocked by LeoVegas in May 2018 after a customer service employee flagged up his communication during a web chat. The company had received a £600,000 penalty from the UK Gambling Commission a few weeks before the account was suspended.
While the online casino flagged the user, its sister sites, Castle Jackpot and Pink Casino continued sending the gambler marketing emails about four times a day offering his bonuses and free spins. After months of receiving these enticing emails, he finally opened a new account in January 2019 with 21.co.uk which is part of LeoVegas group. Interestingly, the gambler used the same name and email address that was flagged on the website before but registered his mother’s debit card. Before the site could ask for his ID verification, he had spent £20,000. The site blocked his account upon finding that he was using someone else’s card.
Even after this suspension, sister sites of LeoVegas continued sending him emails, providing free spins and refund on losses. The gambler has not only used his mother’s debit card for gambling but also amassed payday loans from Satsuma, MyJar, and 247Moneybox.
Recently, Tom Watson, Labour’s deputy leader, said that it doesn’t make sense for gambling companies to do ID checks and affordability checks after gamblers have lost huge sums. This is a system that was implemented for forex trading some years back. He noted that the whole system moved the opposite way of due diligence and called for an outright ban on credit card gambling and excessive marketing tactics employed by operators.
A spokesperson from the Gambling Commission said that they had made the rules about protecting consumers from gambling harm clear to the operators. The regulator will investigate whenever the rules are broken. The government is currently considering if rules around online gambling should be tightened. It may introduce bans/restrictions on gambling on credit and impose stronger ID checks as well. Bookmakers and online casinos are not required to collect affordability information from gamblers. The UK Gambling Commission is investigating LeoVegas, but the company declined to comment on the situation.