If you have suffered gambling losses after you asked to self-exclude can you seek legal redress?
Gambling losses can be crippling and devastate people’s lives, but the options for seeking legal redress are very limited in England and Wales.
The law surrounding gambling is complex, but in general if the bookmaker or casino has complied with its terms and conditions then it is unlikely that you will have a claim. The courts expect gamblers to take responsibility for their betting activities, so for the law to intervene and order financial compensation there must be clear wrongdoing on the part of the company.
One of the limited circumstances where compensation might be available is where you have elected to self-exclude but have then been allowed to continue gambling and have suffered losses.
Such cases are relatively rare and courts adopt a cautious approach to claims.
Betting companies will not for instance be found to be at fault where compulsive gamblers seek to avoid self-exclusion by creating new identities or using third party accounts.
In the case of Ritz Hotel Casino Ltd V Safa Abdulla Al Geabury (2015) the court ruled that a casino’s provision of credit to a gambler who had previously entered into a self-exclusion agreement, but which had been revoked at his request and with his assurance that he did not have a gambling problem, was lawful. The gambler was required to honour a cheque which he had signed in exchange for gambling chips.
It is often assumed that the law will step in and order that gamblers be compensated where the bookmaker or casino were aware that the gambler had a gambling problem. But that assumption is incorrect. In Ritz Hotel V Noora Al Daher (2014) the court declared that it would not be fair, just or reasonable to impose a duty of care on the casino on the basis that it had known that the member was a gambling addict. Nor is there any responsibility to prevent people from gambling very large sums of money that they cannot afford.
In another ruling involving self-exclusion, Graham Calvert V William Hill Credit Ltd (Court Of Appeal) (2008), the court ruled that the scope of the duty of care owed by a bookmaker who had failed to implement a telephone betting exclusion agreement entered into with a customer known or suspected of being a compulsive gambler did not extend to a general duty to prevent the customer from gambling. The quantification of the gambler’s losses flowing from the bookmaker’s breach of a limited duty could not ignore that he would probably have continued to gamble elsewhere and sustained the losses, regardless of the breach.
The level of gambling regulation in England and Wales is surprisingly low and very limited safeguards are currently in place to protect vulnerable gamblers. Add to this the courts’ seeming reluctance to hold the large gambling companies to account and the legal picture looks regrettably bleak for those who have lost life-changing sums of money.