laytech has announced that it will pay £3.5 million (USD 4.3 M) to problem gambling charities after taking "full responsibility" for the failures which led to a customer taking his own life.
The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) published on Wednesday the findings of an investigation into PT Entertainment Services (PTES) –a subsidiary of Playtech who used to trade as www.winner.co.uk and titanbet.co.uk– which, according to the UKGC, uncovered systemic failures in player protection.
The regulator began the investigation in March 2019 after being contacted by the family of Chris Bruney, who tragically took his own life in April 2017 aged 25.
The Commission’s investigation identified serious systemic failings in the way PT Entertainment Services managed its social responsibility and anti-money laundering processes. In relation to Bruney, the regulator found the operator failed to carry out any responsible gambling customer interactions even though it was aware that several of his debit card transactions had been declined.
He was also provided with VIP status without verifying he could afford to spend the amounts of money he was playing with.
The investigation also revealed more general failings in the way PTES interacted with its highest-spending customers. The regulator explained that if the license had not been surrendered, it would have imposed a financial penalty of £3.5million and considered whether other sanctions were appropriate.
"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," said Neil McArthur, the Commission’s Chief Executive. "Our investigations into the role played by key individuals at PTES are continuing."
Between December 26 2016 and April 2017, Bruney bet a total of £4,458,782 and in the period between April 1 and 5 2017 he deposited and lost £119,395.
PTES would have faced a financial penalty of £3.5m from the commission but was closed down during the investigation.
Playtech has now promised to donate that sum to problem gambling charities, in addition to committing to donate a total of £5m to mental health and gambling-related harm charities over the next five years, the Racing Post reports.
Playtech chief executive Mor Weizer said: "We take full responsibility for these regulatory breaches."
He added: "In recent years, we have invested significantly to seek to ensure that these types of breaches do not happen again, including addressing the specific issues raised by the commission."
Playtech's interim chairman Claire Milne will be contacting the Bruney family to apologize personally.
She said: "The findings of this investigation do not reflect where Playtech stands today. But while the company has made many positive and important changes, we feel it is only right for us to recognize these historic failings by offering this increased amount.
"In speaking with many of our stakeholders, it was clear they felt the failings were not representative of the Playtech they know. Through this action, we want to send a message to them and the wider industry of who we are today and aspire to be."