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have WillHill abused their duty of care?

Big story this week in the UK press is of a leading greyhound trainer suing bookmaker William Hill for £2m, after the punter had self-excluded himself.

Daily Mail article

Gambling unfortunately attracts people with addictive personalities and people who simply can't stop betting, despite what their bank balance tells them. Stories from casinos in particular where gamblers simply bet their lives away hurt the entire industry which works hard to keep itself above the seedy reputation earned by a tiny minority of establishments. Companies in the better-regulated jurisdictions all have responsible gambling policies, where problem gamblers can stop themselves from betting with a company via self-exclusion measures.

The punter here alleges he started gambling again just weeks after he sought self-exclusion with Hills, and they agreed to it. Then he proceeded to lose £2m fairly quickly. It's easy to blame the punter for his lack of self-discipline, but if William Hill have committed to stopping a punter needing serious help, then they should be severely penalised for their irresponsible behaviour.

William Hill are apparently the easiest bookmaker to open multiple accounts with to take advantage of free bets or if you've been closed down for winning too much. That's pretty ordinary for such a 'professional' organisation.

This will be a landmark case for the industry as will the Australian case against Crown Casino.

Ninemsn article

Gambling firms do have a duty of care and cowboys who think they can exploit confessed problem gamblers should be kicked out of the industry.

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