Why is The Howard League and GC Ignoring the obvious?
Last year the Howard league were given £1.8m from The Gambling Commission to look into the subject of crime and gambling. A year later, they release a report which is a cut-and-paste of various research documents, whilst offering no real insights or substance themselves. There is a very little mention of the involvement of Experts by Experience (EbEs) and certainly no evidence of such within this latest report from them.
When we look at who authored the report, Sarah Ramananauskas we see that is she is Senior Partner at Gambling Integrity, a company that ‘ensures that their players are protected from gambling-related harm’. The small team boast some good credentials and the work they pride themselves on appear to be absolutely what is needed to protect vulnerable people that suffer from gambling disorder and indeed to educate the gambling companies they work with to ensure the companies comply with money laundering regulations. All three employees have previously worked at a high level within Betfair.
On this basis, you would have thought that The Howard’s League report would have had a firm emphasis on gambling companies’ adherence, or lack of adherence, to Money Laundering Regulations. In simple terms, basic requirements such as the legal requirement for companies to ensure they conduct ongoing monitoring of customers’ accounts when someone signs-up, along with the legal requirement of ensuring customers’ source of wealth is checked would therefore be integral to their report, since this is what Gambling Integrity’s business is based on.
However, bizarrely this key element is noticeably absent. As I write this article, I am currently assisting someone that has stolen a large sum of money from his ex-employer. This individual requested assistance from The Gambling Commission a year ago, admitting his crimes to them. Instead of requesting further details from him and instigating an immediate investigation, they showed no interest whatsoever. I am now fighting on his behalf to ensure The Gambling Commission do their job and investigate what has gone on before he is thrown into the system without the full facts being ascertained. The full facts will be to establish if the companies that happily took tens of thousands of pounds from this individual, breached basic Money Laundering laws and Social Responsibility rules. From what I’ve seen, it’s not much different to the same-old cases the Gambling Commission rule upon on over and over again.
As we know with the most recent case with Playtech, these failings resulted in the suicide of a young man. The simple reality with this case and many others is that the only difference is that this individual is a survivor. He, like all the other survivors, would have seriously contemplated suicide if not attempting it. It still took The Gambling Commission three years to finally deal with the case. Bizarrely, they still need more time to investigate the ‘involvement of individuals’ within the company when it seems very obvious to most of us that the VIP managers craving their commissions and the directors above that probably turned a blind eye to the exploitation and law breaches, are culpable.
Should it be down to someone like me to help individuals in this situation or should an outfit like the Howard League be seeing the blindingly obvious and getting to grips with this? As is often the case within the gambling industry, the independence of organisations that are handpicked to receive vast sums of cash to look into important areas rarely report on the real issues and are selective. We see this by the channelling of huge sums of cash to the likes of Ygam that are tasked with educating our children upon how to gamble ‘safely’ whilst not talking about the bigger picture.
The connections of Gambling Integrity should have been welcomed as they would be privy to how companies such as Betfair deal with their legal and regulatory requirements. However, I personally know of several cases involving Betfair where clear Money Laundering Regulations weren’t adhered to, clear harm markers that indicated disordered gambling were ignored and when challenged, the company denies any wrongdoing. It therefore begs the question; just what are these companies advised upon by advisors if such clear breaches exist and accountability doesn’t? And moreover, why is this important topic continually ignored? Perhaps a penal of more independent experts, half of whom would be Experts by Experience, would get things dealt with. But as we know, it’s the same old faces spinning their selective narratives that we continually hear from. Legacies will never die, data doesn’t lie. All of those complicit in the exploitation of mentally disordered vulnerable individuals to feather their own nests and bolster their bank balances even further will one day be exposed. This also applies to many that stay silent that could have the ability to make a difference to those suffering right now.