Blood on Their Hands?
Do Gambling Operators care about the damage they cause? Yes, but they rationalise it in terms of percentages to make themselves feel better.
For instance if one says that less than 0.7% of people that gamble have a problem, then that sounds fine. Everyone else is having fun, and lots of it, and only a tiny little minority of people have an issue.
But if one says that last year this 0.7% of people cost the NHS £1billion in treatment, and that as many as 750 actual people killed themselves through gambling, that puts a whole different perspective.
The core problem lies in the fact that the gambling operator wants to get the maximum revenue for the minimum effort & outlay, thereby making the largest profit possible – regardless of collateral damage like people becoming bankrupt, losing their health or homes, or killing themselves.
“Nothing personal, it’s just business“ they tell each other to ease their conscience.
A good example of this is Bet365, now one of the largest gambling operators in the world, handling a massive £47 Billion pounds worth of bets last year and with CEO Denise Coates paying herself £217m. Gambling has made her a Billionaire, and she has indeed “made it” in the male-dominated gambling world and is now Britain’s highest paid woman.
Ms Coates prides herself in running an efficient, profitable business that has happy, successful customers. Profitable yes, but the rest appears to be far from that.
What kind of Company is Bet365?
According to GlassDoor staff reviews, Bet365 staff report they work for a “toxic” “vile” company with a “stressful” working environment where they are forced to work 10 hour shifts on weekends at short notice. Another writes “Unscrupulous, dishonest company.”
Bet365 sounds like some kind of modern-day Victorian workhouse.
This pattern is quite consistent if you filter out the obviously fake 5 star glowing reviews. One staff member writes: “They pay well but it’s not worth your sanity.” Even their toilet breaks are timed and morale is low.
[we are currently interviewing Bet365 staff to learn more, check back shortly]
Their customers don’t seem to like them either. According to TrustPilot Bet365 punters widely complain that the firm is quick enough to take their money, but very slow to pay out (if at all, in some cases).
TrustPilot contains such quite a spectacular collection of bad feeling toward the company that promotes a happy, care free image – so much so that Management are rumoured to have mounted a campaign to get some better reviews published.
So behind the professional image – enhanced by a CBE from the Queen for her services to Community & Business – is Denise Coates in fact some kind of cold, heartless, calculating Witch who pursues money at literally ANY cost? Not unlike Sir Jimmy Saville OBE who pursued his own needs at any cost?
To help answer this question we decided to give Ms Coates the benefit of the doubt and wrote to her personally. We invited her to contribute a relatively insignificant amount to our gambling help organisation, in order to help prevent further gambling problems and suicides.
But she politely declined our request (actually it wasn’t even her, but her Manager) saying that it wasn’t possible at this time. Yet Bet365’s latest financial reports show that they have close to a thousand million pounds in the bank, and are turning over record sums.
So it seems that the old 80’s Wall Street mantra “Greed is Good” is alive & well, and living in Stoke.
If she, like Jack Ritchie’s mother, suddenly learned in the middle of the night that her own son had thrown himself off a rooftop in Vietnam?
Or if she learned that one of HER daughters had plunged to her death in the Avon George, having racked up secret debts with a rival gambling firm and been too ashamed to tell her Mum?
How would SHE feel knowing that she had helped build a business that caused her own child’s death?
Life certainly has a strange way of serving things up sometimes to get us to see all sides. Her own father, Peter Coates, is majority shareholder in his beloved Stoke City F.C. thanks to Bet365’s success at extracting money from gamblers. Yet one of his players, Matthew Etherington, developed the gambling bug in 2009 to the tune of £40,000 a month on greyhounds, horse racing and poker.
Peter personally bailed him out, so it must have been an interesting dinner conversion for him (although it looks like he believes that gambling is a disease that has nothing to do with the gambling firms).
Bit like saying the drug dealer has nothing to do with the drug addict to whom he pushes various substances at all day long. (See our forthcoming feature on the primary differences – or lack of them – between some gambling operators and crack dealers.)
What WILL make Operators change?
It would seem that inviting them to change on their own does not work, unfortunately. If it did then gambling operators would already be donating well in excess of the minimum amount to charity, which they do not.
According to the Government and the Gambling Commission, Licencees are supposed to donate an absolute minimum of 0.1% of turnover which from a £14billion pound GGY (Gross Gambling Yield) would provide in excess of £14m for helping the people addicted to their products.
Bet365 alone should be at the very minimum paying out 0.1% of £2,600,000,000 = £2.6m. Yet Denise Coates donates a maximum of £1.2m – a fraction of what she is supposed to. And the Charitable Foundation she setup is specifically instructed NOT to provide assistance to gambling help organisations (any donations she has made have been relatively tiny ones from Bet365 itself).
Scrooge himself would be impressed.
Out of a £14,000,000,000 haul the total donation from all Gambling Operators combined is a miserly £8m.
One operator actually sent in – wait for it – a cheque for £0.01p
And if they were seriously capable of self-regulation, then they would already be doing a lot more than promote a flimsy responsible gambling message “Stop when the FUN stops.” Customers and those in gambling harm & therapy circles find this a laughable, totally ineffective slogan which intentionally emphasizes the word “FUN”.
The number of problem gamblers is rapidly rising to 2 million, according to the Gambling Commission, and this slogan is not doing anything whatsoever to slow the increase.
So what about the UK Gambling Commission – is it not their job to do something about the growing number of problem gamblers and subsequent suicides?
Well unfortunately not. The UKGC exists solely to ensure that gambling operators adhere to the terms of their licence granted to them by the UKGC (for example not marketing to self-excluded gamblers, or allowing such persons to gamble). And judging by the few fines that they have imposed, they have their hands full just trying to get that right.
Which leaves the UK government, massively distracted by Brexit. Following a recent but lengthy consultation, they admitted that the FOBT product was taking unfair advantage of customers and should have its stake reduced to a rock bottom £2 … but cannot bring themselves to implement it for another 2 years!
And yet if a food product was on sale that had been deemed to be harmful or poisonous, you can guarantee that it would be taken off the shelves by nightfall. Non-sense.