Ladbrokes Coral is to pay £2.3m for breaching consumer protection regulations, it was confirmed this morning.
The group's subsidiary Gala Interactive has been fined after two high-spending gamblers who later went to prison lost £1.3m between them on the site. Both used stolen money to fund their gambling addiction.
The Gambling Commission found in an investigation that Gala had failed in its responsibility to oversee problem gambling behaviour. The commission said that the company had not effectively interacted with the customers concerned and that it did not have written policies and procedures in place to deal with the problem.
“It is the responsibility of all operators – particularly key decision makers in those companies – to ensure they are protecting their customers and step in when there is behaviour that might indicate problem gambling," explained Gambling Commission chief executive Sarah Harrison.
“This did not happen in this case and the £2.3m penalty package should serve as a warning to other operators.”
The commission noted that the case was particularly frustrating because Gala had previously given assurances that it would identify problem gamblers sooner.
The penalty amount includes £1.3m to be paid to those who were stolen from by the problem gamblers, while an additional £1m will go to fund research into gambling addiction. Gala has also volunteered a further £200,000 towards research.