A UK Gambling Commission investigation into systemic player protection failures at PT Entertainment Services has led to the closure of the company.
An investigation into PTES, who used to trade as www.winner.co.uk and titanbet.co.uk, came after the UKGC were contacted by the family of an individual who tragically took his own life in April 2017 aged 25.
Although PTES surrendered its licence during the investigation the Commission decided to complete continue and publish its findings, citing public interest.
The Commission’s investigation is said to have identified “serious systemic failings” in the way PTES managed its social responsibility and anti-money laundering processes.
In relation to the individual in question, the UKGC concluded that 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.
PTES is also said to have provided VIP status without verifying affordability, something which the regulator asserts represents “serious and unacceptable failings”.
The investigation also revealed more general failings in the way PTES interacted with its highest spending customers.
The failures in PTES’ social responsibility policies and procedures occurred between May 2015 and September 2017. During the 2016/2017 the entity had 240,126 active customers, of these 633 (0.26 per cent) were sent responsible gambling emails.
In its statement, the UKGC stipulates that: “Prior to surrender of its operating licence, PTES made a number of financial settlement offers which the Commission regarded as seriously deficient. PTES proceeded to donate £619,395, the amount it proposed as a regulatory settlement offer on 30 October 2019, to charity in furtherance of the National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms.
“Playtech, its parent company, has also pledged to donate a total of £5m to mental health and gambling-related harm charities over the next five years as part of its strategy to promote better online health.”
If the licence had not been surrendered, the Commission has suggested that a financial penalty of at least £3.5m would have been an appropriate course of action. Investigations are continuing into the role played by “key individuals” who still hold personal licenses.
Neil McArthur, the Commission’s chief executive, said: “This is a tragic case which came to light after I was contacted by the family of the young man who very sadly took his own life. I want to thank them for their bravery in bringing his case to our attention and we are grateful for the way they have worked with us in such terrible circumstances so that we could understand what happened.
“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.
“Our investigations into the role played by key individuals at PTES are continuing. As such, it would be inappropriate to say more about the specific case at this time.
“This case – like so many others we have seen – illustrates why the management of so-called ‘high value customers’ has to change. Operators must do everything in their power to interact with customers responsibly. We will shortly be opening a consultation to make permanent changes to the way operators recruit and incentivise high value customers.’’