Bookmaker Paddy Power has admitted that it encouraged a customer known to have a gambling problem to continue gambling, and did not take appropriate steps to deal with potential money laundering issues.
The Gambling Commission released a statement today detailing Paddy Power's failure to help keep crime out of gambling and to "protect vulnerable people from being harmed or exploited".
The statement reveals that in 2014, staff at a regional Paddy Power branch decided to look into the source of the money a particular customer was using to gamble, with concerns over possible money laundering.
However, Paddy Power obtained "incomplete information" based only on the customer’s own account and staff’s belief that he or his family owned a number of restaurants, according to the Gambling Commission, which added that there is no evidence that any further information, such as the names of the restaurants, was ever obtained.
The company also became concerned that the customer could be a problem gambler, and staff subsequently became aware that he was "was working five jobs to fund his gambling and that he had no money". When the branch manager told a more senior member of staff that the customer would be visiting the shop less frequently, the senior staff member advised the shop staff that steps should be taken to try to increase the customer’s visits and time spent in the gambling premises.
"Paddy Power accepts that this advice, in the circumstances, was erroneous and directly conflicted with its own policies and procedures designed to meet their responsibility to prevent gambling being a source of harm to their customers," said the Gambling Commission.
Meanwhile, staff at a Paddy Power shop became suspicious that another customer was using the branch to launder Scottish bank notes. A shop manager raised their concerns with more senior staff, and was advised to pay out as normal. After the company found out that police had concerns that Scottish notes that were the proceeds of crime were in circulation in London, the customer was barred from the business.
While the group initially told the commission that it had followed its money laundering policy, "Paddy Power now accepts that the shop manager had a basis to be suspicious and that the response by more senior staff to the suspicions raised by the shop manager were, in the circumstances, incorrect".
The Gambling Commission said Paddy Power had co-operated fully in connection with these issues, and added that the issues it had identified "are likely to form the basis for future compliance assessments of gambling operators".
Paddy Power and Betfair agreed to merge last year, with the deal set to complete in the next few months.