Betway uses AML to postpone paying out winnings for players

Published:28 July 2020

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Excessive losses may not be the only problem that addicted gamblers face when dealing with illegal operators, a report that The Guardian reveals followed. England, where the gambling industry is one of the most regulated, and the regulator discharges strong financial sanctions, it may not be that straightforward to cash out on winnings, and it may also be expensive. At least for Doug Shelley, who had been seeking to withdraw £108,000 from his Betway account since April 2019 on stakes and winnings.

The operator, who was subjected by the Gambling Commission to a record £ 11.6 million fine for failure to comply with money laundering and social responsibility policies, allowed Mr Shelley to make a hefty deposit of £ 43,000 without verifying the source of the funds. And only after two winning bets more than doubled the funds in the player account did he suddenly recall his obligations concerning the player account.

Douglas Shelley is one of nine people barred from racing at a January 2013 hearing at which the leading figure, jockey Andrew Heffernan, was disqualified for 15 years for intentionally refusing to run three horses on their merits and passing on details for reward inside. Shelley was suspended for 8 years for laying one of the horses via his player account.

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In April 2019, Mr Shelley, who publicly admits to his gambling addiction after single bets on two horses and a one-way double, felt his luck had finally improved. Instead, he was initially limited to £1 bets on horses after the winnings, and after another successful bet on football, he was shut out of his Betway account and the funds in it, £108,400.

Mr Shelley was eventually paid out by Betway, the company whose owner the Gambling Commission refuses to reveal, following allegations of unfortunate VIP activities that exacerbate addictions to gambling rather than preventing them. After having spent more than £ 10,000 on forensic analysis of his bank account and assets, prepared and accredited by an independent accountant, Betway decided to release the funds in three stages, the last being made in May.

Whether this is a case of misuse of power is something to be determined by the respective authorities. Still, such practices merely vindicate the need for more regulation. Given the industry vehemently opposed by a group of MPs recently proposed reforms, including the suspension of VIP schemes, it should show that it can eliminate such practices itself.