Gambling operator William Hill made a £500,000 payment to the Dundee City Council, after a former council staff member was sentenced to jail time for stealing over £1 million from the local authority and gambling a portion of the money on the bookmaker’s website.
Mark Conway was a senior IT expert at the Dundee City Council. Through an elaborate scheme, the former staff managed to defraud the authority out of £1.065 million, The Courier reported. Conway was convicted last year.
The City Council announced last December that a gambling operator had made a contribution amounting to the share of money Conway had gambled on its website. Councilors did not disclose who the bookmaker was at the time.
The Courier used a freedom of information legislation to eventually reveal the name of the gambling operator. The news outlet also pointed out that according to the Dundee City Council, the payment had not been made due to any legal obligation imposed on William Hill and had instead been purely an “ex gratia” one.
However, people familiar with matters of this nature told media that the operator would have probably been ordered to make the payment by the UK Gambling Commission. What is more, by making the payment voluntarily, William Hill may have evaded an additional fine by the nation’s gambling regulator.
Neither the UK Gambling Commission, nor the operator have commented on the matter.
Lessons to Be Learned
Conway’s conviction and William Hill’s ex gratia payment once again raised concerns over whether gambling operators are acting properly when they spot customers with problem gambling behavior. Commenting on the matter, Dundee City Councilor Richard McCready told media that there are several very important lessons to be learned from Conway’s case.
The local official pointed out that while the IT expert was the actual culprit, banks, William Hill, and the Council apparently failed to take due measures in due time. According to Mr. McCready, the fraud was detected, to certain extent, by mere chance, and that Conway could have still been stealing and gambling money away.
GambleAware, the independent charity tasked with the promotion of responsible gambling, said that William Hill could have acted earlier. According to the organization, the operator failed to spot and prevent a customer with clear indications of problem gambling behavior from spending more money.
GambleAware further advised operators to watch carefully for any signals for gambling addiction and gambling-related issues. The higher than normal level of spending was named one such important signal.
News about William Hill making the payment to the Dundee City Council emerged shortly after it became clear that the operator was one of three companies to have agreed to implement certain changes in the way their players can wager money and withdraw winnings from their websites amid the Competition and Markets Authority’s crackdown on predatory online gambling terms and conditions and sign-up promotions.
Due to pressure from the CMA and the UK Gambling Commission, UK-licensed operators will have to gradually roll out changes that would allow customers to withdraw their winnings effortlessly and whenever they want to. Companies will also have to present players with clear terms and conditions upon signing them up.
Robert Johnson is an experienced web author and blogger. He has over three years of experience as a freelance journalist and writer.