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Betting Giant Playtech Is Accused Of 'profiting' From Suicide

by Clement Demaine (2021-10-28)

<p><span style="line-height:120%;text-decoration: underline;text-decoration-color: red;">BETTING giant Playtech has</span> been accused of profiting from the suicide of a high-flying engineer after it refused to pay back his losses to his grieving family.</p><iframe width="640" height="360" src="//" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen style="float:left;padding:10px 10px 10px 0px;border:0px;"></iframe>
<p>Chris Bruney, 25, who <a href="">suffered</a> from a gambling addiction, took his own life hours after being plied with £400 of bonuses by staff at, an online casino owned by the £1billion company.</p>
<p><a href="">Playtech</a> <span style="text-decoration: underline;text-decoration-color: green;">used a legal loophole to avoid</span> <span style="font-family: Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, Trebuchet MS, Tahoma, Geneva, Lucida Sans Unicode, Lucida Grande, MS Sans Serif, sans-serif;text-decoration: underline;">paying a £3.5million fine</span> over the death, only paying up after a campaign by this newspaper.</p>
<p style="text-justify;"><a href="">Chirs Bruney</a> and his <a target="_blank" href="">girlfriend Fran</a> Green. Chris took his own life hours after being plied with <a title="click here" href="">bonuses</a> by staff at, an <a href="">online casino</a> <span style="font-family: Garamond, Georgia, Times, Times New Roman, serif;font-size: small;font-style: italic;">owned by the £1billion</span> company</p>
<p style="text-justify;">This week Mr Bruney’s family said the firm has refused to pay back £119,000 he lost in the five days before his death.</p>
<p><span style="line-height:90%;font-weight: 700;">His mother Judith said: ‘I</span> <span style="text-shadow:2px 5px 20px red;text-decoration: underline;text-decoration-color: green;">believe Playtech and the other</span> companies that Chris gambled with killed my son. It is shameful that they have now refused to pay back the money Chris lost. They have <a target="_blank" rel="me" href="">profited</a> from his death.’</p>
<p><span style="font-family: fantasy;text-transform:capitalize;">She was also promised a</span> <span style="font-family: serif;font-weight: 100;">meeting in May this year with</span> the firm’s boss Claire Milne, but this has not yet taken place.</p>
<p><span style="font-family: Gill Sans Extrabold, sans-serif;font-weight: bold;">Mr Bruney, an electrical</span> <span style="font-size: xx-large;font-weight: lighter;">engineer from Sheffield on an</span> <i>annual salary of £60,000, was</i> <span style="text-decoration: underline;text-decoration-color: blue;">given £4,500 in cash bonuses</span> <span style="color:rgba(255, 255, 255,0.5);font-stretch: extra-condensed;font-weight: bolder;">and 120 'free spins' in the</span> five days before he died.</p>
<p>He had been designated as a 'VIP' player, because of the amount he was betting, which entitled him to cash bonuses and an Apple Watch.</p>
<p>After an 18-month investigation the gambling watchdog, the <a title="click here" href="">Gambling</a> Commission, found there were <a title="click here" href="">'serious systemic</a> failings' in the way Playtech's subsidiary, PT Entertainment <a rel='me' href="">Services</a> (PTES), managed social responsibility and <a rel='me nofollow' href="">anti-money laundering</a> processes.</p>
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<p>In a <a href="">ruling published</a> <span style="word-spacing:-1px;font-weight: 200;">in May, it found staff did not</span> <span style="text-shadow: 2px 2px 2px #ff0000;text-transform:capitalize;">ask if Mr Bruney was happy</span> with his <a target="_blank" href="">gambling</a> <span style="font-family: Courier, Courier New, monospace;word-spacing:-1px;font-style: italic;">or could afford his losses, as</span> required by industry rules.</p>
<p>But <a href="">Playtech</a> shut down PTES meaning the regulator was unable to force Playtech to pay the fine, even though the breaches constituted a criminal offence.</p>
<p><span style="color:rgb(192, 192, 192);font-family: Courier, Courier New, monospace;font-weight: lighter;">Following anger from the</span> readers of this newspaper, MPs, addiction charities and a Church of <a href="">England</a> bishop, <a style="font-weight: bolder;text-decoration: none;color:rgb(192, 0, 0);" href="">Playtech paid</a> the full fine.</p>
<p><span style="font-family: Courier, Courier New, monospace;text-decoration: underline;text-decoration-color: green;">The Bruney family are now</span> <span style="font-family: Trebuchet MS, Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;font-weight: 400;">formally complaining to the</span> Commission over its handling of the case, saying their incompetence caused distress and deprived them the opportunity to get the losses returned.</p>
<p style="text-justify;">Mr Bruney’s partner Fran Green, who works as a nurse, said: ‘Chris was taken from us by the <a target="_blank" href="">unchecked greed</a> of the gambling industry.</p>
<p>‘The Gambling Commission investigation took too long, <a href="">compounded</a> our suffering, and stopped us from having any chance of redress. The continued abuse by the gambling industry is costing more lives. It must stop.’</p>
<p style="text-justify;">The Bruney family are <a href="">calling</a> for a new ‘Chris’s Law’, which would implement a statutory duty of care for bookmakers, upheld by an independent ombudsman, to ‘prevent the <a href="">exploitation</a> <span style="text-shadow:2px 5px 20px red;line-height:80%;text-decoration: underline;text-decoration-color: green;">that led to Chris’s</span> death’.</p>
<p>Mr Bruney, a £60,000-a-year electrical engineer from Sheffield who was <a rel='nofollow' href="">designated</a> a VIP player, was given £4,500 in <a href="">bonuses</a> <span style="text-transform:lowercase;">and 120 ‘free spins’ in</span> the five days before he died. Pictured with his girlfriend Fran</p>
<p>It will also provide an avenue for redress for victims and ensure gambling companies do not profit when they break the law.</p>
<p>No one at Playtech has lost their job over Mr Bruney's death, but five executives who ran its subsidiary no longer work for the company. Eight staff remain under investigation by the industry watchdog.</p>
<p style="text-justify;">Carolyn Harris MP, chair of the all-party parliamentary group on gambling, said: ‘The exploitation that led to Chris’s death should not be possible in 21st century Britain - and it is shameful that Playtech has profited from this tragedy.</p>
<p><span style="font-family: monospace;font-size: 120%;text-decoration: underline;text-decoration-color: green;">‘The Government must launch</span> <span style="word-wrap: break-word;font-family: Trebuchet MS, Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;text-transform:capitalize;">the gambling review and change</span> <em><span style="text-shadow: 2px 2px 2px #ff0000;font-family: cursive;">the law so no more families</span></em> suffer like the Bruneys.’</p>
<p><span style="text-shadow:2px 5px 20px red;font-family: fantasy;word-spacing:1px;text-decoration: underline;text-decoration-color: blue;">Playtech donated £2.88million</span> to Gambling with Lives, which supports families <a style="font-weight: bolder;text-decoration: none;color:rgb(192, 0, 0);" href="">bereaved</a> by suicide, while the remaining £620,000 went to other <a rel="Nofollow" href="">charities</a> <span style="font-weight: 400;">in addiction research and</span> treatment.</p><a href=""><img src="" style="max-width:450px;float:left;padding:10px 10px 10px 0px;border:0px;"></a>
<p><span style="font-family: Courier, Courier New, monospace;font-weight: bold;">In May a Playtech insider said</span> it was 'open to <a href="">meeting</a> the family to <a href="">discuss</a> further steps' with regard to returning the £119,000, but did not make a commitment to repay the money.</p>
<p>In January the commission chose Playtech to head a team to develop new ways to <a target="_blank" href="">protect vulnerable</a> <span style="font-family: Courier, Courier New, monospace;text-decoration: underline;text-decoration-color: red;">players by drawing up an</span> industry code on game design.</p>
<p><span style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;line-height:80%;font-weight: bolder;">And earlier this year</span> <u><span style="font-family: Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, Trebuchet MS, Tahoma, Geneva, Lucida Sans Unicode, Lucida Grande, MS Sans Serif, sans-serif;word-spacing:5px;">two-thirds of its shareholders</span></u> revolted over a bonus for its chief executive Mor Weizer worth up to £30million over five years.</p>
<h2>The Gambling Commission declined to comment.</h2>
<p>Betting watchdog betrays gambling addicts as it refuses to ban 'grooming' <a target="_blank" href="">tactics</a> used by bookmakers to <a target="_blank" href="">encourage gamblers</a> <span style="font-weight: 300;">to bet more</span>
<span style="font-family: Lucida Console, Monaco, Courier, Courier New, monospace;word-spacing:1px;font-style: oblique;">by Tom Witherow Business</span> Correspondent for the Daily Mail</p>
<p>The gambling watchdog has <a style="font-weight: bolder;text-decoration: none;color:rgb(192, 0, 0);" href="">refused</a> to ban the ‘grooming’ tactics used by bookmakers to encourage gamblers to bet more.</p>
<p style="text-justify;"><span style="white-space:pre-wrap;font-family: Gill Sans Extrabold, sans-serif;text-decoration: underline;">‘VIP’ schemes have faced a</span> furious backlash due to their role in a series of <a href="">high-profile</a> fines, frauds and suicides.</p>
<p>They have been blamed for <a target="_blank" href="">encouraging vulnerable</a> <span style="word-spacing:1px;font-weight: 100;">gamblers to bet more than they</span> can afford by enticing them with massive cash bonuses, <a rel="Nofollow" href="">exclusive tickets</a> <b><span style="white-space:pre-wrap;text-shadow:2px 5px 20px red;word-spacing:2px;">to sports matches and</span></b> ‘matey’ messages from personal account <a href="">managers</a>.</p>
<p><strong><span style="font-family: Goudy Bookletter 1911, sans-serif;">The Daily Mail has been</span></strong> calling for greater protection for addicts with its Stop the Gambling Predators campaign.</p>
<p>But next month, after a <a href="">year-long</a> consultation, the Gambling Commission watchdog will tell bookmakers they can keep using the ‘highly dangerous’ products.</p><a href=""><img src="" style="max-width:410px;float:left;padding:10px 10px 10px 0px;border:0px;"></a>
<p><span style="font-family: Courier, Courier New, monospace;text-transform:uppercase;">Ladbrokes’ owner GVC</span> admitted it takes 38 per cent of <a rel='me' href="">deposits</a> <span style="text-shadow: 2px 2px 2px #ff0000;font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;line-height:80%;font-style: oblique;">from just over one per cent of</span> its customers, while Paddy Power Betfair last year took a fifth of its revenues from just 0.6 per cent of customers (file image)</p><a target="_blank" href=""><img src="" style="max-width:440px;float:left;padding:10px 10px 10px 0px;border:0px;"></a>
<p><a href="">Campaigners</a> have labelled the decision a whitewash, saying it will allow gambling companies to ‘prey on the vulnerable’.</p>
<p>Sir Iain Duncan Smith, of the all-party parliamentary group on gambling, said: ‘By failing to ban VIP schemes the regulator is literally licensing abuse.</p>
<p>'The term "VIP" is simply the means by which <a href="">betting companies</a> <span style="font-family: Trebuchet MS, Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;line-height:90%;text-decoration: underline;text-decoration-color: red;">trap problem gamblers,</span> potentially destroying them and their families.</p>
<p>'These schemes must be outlawed.’ Charles Ritchie, founder of the charity Gambling with Lives, who was involved in the consultation, said: ‘We know so many people on ordinary incomes who have been destroyed by these schemes.</p>
<h2>‘They are dangerous and have no place in gambling.</h2>
<p><span style="text-shadow:2px 5px 20px red;font-size: xx-large;text-decoration: underline;text-decoration-color: green;">‘We do not want VIP schemes</span> <span style="text-shadow: 2px 2px 2px #ff0000;font-family: fantasy;text-decoration: underline;text-decoration-color: blue;">to be run more carefully, we</span> <span style="text-shadow:2px 5px 20px red;font-family: Gill Sans Extrabold, sans-serif;text-transform:uppercase;">want to see them stopped</span> altogether.’</p>
<h2>Campaigner Tony Parente, who was also involved in the consultation, said: ‘It’s a whitewash.</h2>
<p>â€<a href="">˜These schemes</a> prey on the <a href="">vulnerable</a> and incentivise individuals’ losses. They must be banned.’</p>
<p>The <a href="">Gambling Commission</a> <span style="white-space:pre;line-height:2;font-weight: 100;">is expected to announce new</span> measures including <a href="">enhanced affordability</a> checks and greater <a href="">oversight</a> of VIPs from senior managers.</p>
<p>The Daily Mail has been calling for greater protection for addicts with its Stop the Gambling Predators campaign (file image)</p>
<h2>Bookmakers are unwilling to ditch the schemes because they are enormously lucrative.</h2>
<p>Ladbrokes’ <a href="">owner GVC</a> admitted it takes 38 per cent of deposits from just over one per cent of its customers, while Paddy Power Betfair last year took a fifth of its revenues from just 0.6 per cent of customers.</p>
<p>In January, MPs criticised the Commission for appointing GVC to lead a review of online betting for VIP customers, with one saying ‘it’s like <a rel="me" href="">putting</a> <span style="font-family: serif;word-spacing:3px;text-decoration: underline;">the mafia in charge of looking</span> into organised crime’.</p>
<p><span style="font-family: Goudy Bookletter 1911, sans-serif;line-height:120%;font-weight: 900;">Gamblers who are offered the</span> <span style="line-height:120%;text-decoration: overline;">incentives are about 11 times</span> <span style="font-family: Courier, Courier New, monospace;text-decoration: underline;text-decoration-color: green;"><div id="ofwg" style="display:none;"></div>more likely to be addicted to</span> <span style="font-family: sans-serif;text-decoration: underline;text-decoration-color: green;">gambling, according to figures</span> released by the Commission.</p>
<p>Peter Jackson, CEO of Paddy Power Betfair. In January, MPs criticised the Commission for appointing GVC to lead a review of online betting for VIP customers, with one saying ‘it’s like <a href="">putting</a> the mafia in charge of looking into organised crime’</p>
<p><a style="font-weight: bolder;text-decoration: none;color:rgb(192, 0, 0);" href="">VIP schemes</a> <span style="font-weight: bold;"><div id="agfj" style="display:none;"></div>were cited in the case of Ben</span> Jones, who stole £370,000 from his employer to feed his <a rel=nofollow href="">addiction</a>. <span style="font-family: Trebuchet MS, Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;text-decoration: underline;">Betway, the firm he bet with,</span> was fined £11.6million.</p>
<p>In 2019, the Commission cited VIP rules when it fined Ladbrokes Coral £5.9million for anti-money laundering and social responsibility failings. And in April, it fined casino operator Caesars Entertainment a record £13million for ‘systemic failings’ in its VIP programmes.</p>
<p><span style="font-family: fantasy;font-size-adjust:1.20;text-decoration: underline;text-decoration-color: red;">The Commission said the new</span> <span style="color:hsl(120,0%,50%);font-family: Trebuchet MS, Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;font-stretch: extra-expanded;text-decoration: underline;text-decoration-color: red;">rules would ‘make gambling</span> safer for players’ and ‘are designed to stamp out malpractice in the management of <a href="">VIP customers</a>.’</p>
<p style="text-justify;"><span style="color:#bbb;font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;">It added: ‘Operators will be left in no doubt</span> about our expectations and, if significant improvements are not made, we will have no choice but to take further action and ban such schemes.’</p>