Will Hill and Paddy Power Betfair Face Compensation Lawsuit

William Hill and Paddy Power have been faced with fresh compensation claims, after a customer admitted to having stolen money from clients to feed what appeared to be a gambling addiction.

William Hill and Paddy Power Face Compensation Claims

A gambling addict has agreed to help clients seek back compensation from bookmakers that have allowed the individual to place a total of seven-figure wagers, after he had been reportedly showing symptoms of addiction. The compensation claims affect two of the United Kingdom’s biggest names in the sector, William Hill and Paddy Power.

Investigation discovered that the individual had placed the wagers with money he had stolen from his clients, as part of his employment in the Dubai’s property sector. Interviewed by police in April, 2018, the “offender” made a confession, revealing the origin of the money. Shortly after, he agreed to assist his clients in seeking compensations from the same bookmakers for having failed to spot the customer’s gambling-related problems.

William Hill's store window in the UK.
Outside a William Hill betting shop.

According to the Guardian, the customer had placed £650,000 over a six-month period at William Hill. Paddy Power Betfair reportedly accepted £965,000 in bets and the same compensation is sought from the company.

If the case goes in the way of the plaintiffs, this will be one of the latest ill turn of events for William Hill with the company previously having to pay £6.2 million fine in a related case. In the past case, the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) had established that William Hill had allowed money gained through criminal activities to be wagered and laundered.

The UK’s watchdog also hit Paddy Power Betfair with a £2.2 million fine related to a failure to meet the necessary customer-protection and anti-money laundering (AML) practices.

Due Diligence Needs Enhancement

Failure to meet anti-money laundering (AML) practices and KYC obligations entail some of the stiffest penalties in the industry. The plaintiffs will base their case on the argument that both William Hill and Paddy Power Betfair have failed to conduct the necessary checks that would have revealed the origin of the money as fraudulent.

Given the faulty past of the companies, a ruling in their favor would be difficult. According to the investigation, the individual allegedly brought whole bags of money to William Hill’s betting shops asking for safe storage. However, this didn’t prompt the necessary obligatory checks as per the license agreements.

Meanwhile, the case has been taken up by Mackrell Turner Garrett, a law firm, with James Atton representing the plaintiffs. Mr. Atton has pointed out that so far there has been a failure of communication between the plaintiffs, the UKGC and Paddy Power Betfair. Paddy Power Betfair would definitely want to avoid another complication and a fine, as the company is now facing FOBTs £2 cut-down.

William Hill continues to deny wrongdoing, saying that the allegations have been investigated for months now and the company awaits a final decision. However, William Hill did point out that the individual who had staked the money had not been part of any investigation nor brought to justice for the theft of the money.

While the case presents certain challenges, it does seem like the bookmakers have complacently allowed £1.5 million to clear their betting shops without carrying out the necessary checks.

Carmen Thompson

Carmen is our residential reporter always on the move and hunting down the latest scoops and rumours to explore. Nothing gets past her keen nose, especially when it comes to some serious Jelly Bean poker tournaments.

William Hill to Add Markets with Mr. Green Acquisition

William Hill is diversifying its assets and reducing its dependency on its main market. The company’s acquisition of MRG is another step in that direction, with William Hill making sure to re-focus its efforts out of one of its main bastions – the United Kingdom.

William Hills’ MRG Means Readjustment

On December 4, William Hill announced that it was seeking to acquire MRG, a casino brand formerly known as Mr. Green. MRG is valued at $307 million and offers new markets, which would help the company seek alternative sources of revenue beyond the United Kingdom, where Will Hill has become a house name.

With the announcement, William Hill also acknowledged that the bulk of the £1.7 billion in annual revenue still came from the United Kingdom where legal & regulatory tensions have been mounting. Diversifying would help the company dive into developing and established new markets. The company signaled its intentions towads MRG as early as November, when William Hill first announced its intentions to acquire a nearly 5-percent stake in Mr. Green.

MRG, in particular, presently operates in a number of markets, including Denmark, Italy, Latvia, Ireland, Malta, and of course – Great Britain, and further expansion is on the cards. With Sweden recently legalizing its own online casino market, MRG hopes to obtain a license and start offering its products to Swedish customers on January 1, 2019.

MRG’s online-only business will increase the William Hill Group’s share of revenue and profits from online as well as from outside the UK, and reduce William Hill’s exposure to the UK market – Official William Hill statement

Stipulating about the benefits of the acquisition, William Hill outlined a scenario whereby the company had already acquired MRG, which would have driven the first six months results by 5 percent across the board. Growth outside the United Kingdom would have jumped by 7 percent.

William Hill will need to go through a number of legal procedures before it can acquire MRG, with the company expecting the deal to push through between December 10 and January 17, 2019.

If watchdogs fail to review the proposal, then a grace period will be granted so that the acquisition may continue according to plan. Settlement is expected to begin on January 25, 2019. William Hill will seek to acquire at least 90 percent of MRG shares, indicating a full-acquisition.

After the process has been completed, the company will delist MRG from the Nasdaq Stockholm, giving William Hill enough time to bring all internal operations in line and reposition its assets and portfolio.

William Hill is presently facing a number of problems at home, although none too serious as of the moment. The bookmaker was recently reported not to pay out the correct odds to punters, short-handing them instead.

With the regulatory headwinds intensifying, many bookmakers and iGaming companies are looking for ways to minimize the impact of the looming Brexit and the jump in remote gambling tax.

In 2019, companies will be subject to some of the most demanding tax & regulatory norms in the past decade, which will require smart business action.

Carmen Thompson

Carmen is our residential reporter always on the move and hunting down the latest scoops and rumours to explore. Nothing gets past her keen nose, especially when it comes to some serious Jelly Bean poker tournaments.