UK Gambling Commission reveals PTES player protection failings

The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has revealed that Playtech’s PT Entertainment Services (PTES) entity failed to adequately protect users from gambling-related harm. 

An investigation had been called by the UKGC after a PTES customer committed suicide in April 2017. 

Among the operator’s shortcomings were limited protection for both new customers and VIP scheme members. 

The operator has surrendered its UK B2C licence in 2019, while Playtech has also pledged to donate millions over the next five years to charity. 

“Systemic failures” 

According to the Gambling Commission’s findings, PTES was guilty of “systemic failures”. These arose when looking at the deceased customer’s activity.

Said individual opened an account with PTES brand Winner on Boxing Day in 2016, while also signing up with Titanbet – another PTES site – in December of that year. The user had two debit payments declined by their bank, but was still able to deposit £18,700 on 26th and 27th December 2016. This is much higher than the average. 

On 28th December, the same user attempted to deposit £4,000. But again, that was rejected by their bank. That same day, PTES offered a free Apple Watch gift and VIP programme membership. The player told PTES that they were grateful, since no other operator offered such awards. This was despite them wagering “much more” with said websites. 

The following day, an internal email alerted that this customer had racked up a £22,000 loss. According to the UKGC, PTES had not considered player safety and responsible gambling checks – despite the debit deposit declines and the fact that they claimed to bet even more on other gambling sites. 

Between December 2016 and April 2017, this customer wagered £4.46 million and won £4.47 million on roulette and blackjack. PTES didn’t perform any responsible gamblign interactions during this period. Between 1st and 5th April 2017 alone, the user deposited and lost £119,395.

Other big shortcomings 

The UKGC found that PTES’ responsible gambling triggers didn’t apply to customers who were not active for between two and six months. As such, those who signed up and started wagering huge amounts straight away were undetected. 

PTES had 240,126 customers, but only 0.26% of these – or 633 in total – were sent responsible gambling emails. The UKGC said that this was “exceptionally low”. 

UKGC Chief Executive Neil McArthur spoke about the investigation, with his thoughts being as follows. 

“This is a tragic case which came to light after I was contacted by the family of the young man who very sadly took his own life. 

“Although PTES has ceased trading we decided to complete our investigation and publish our findings, as the lessons from this tragic case must be learned by all operators. 

“Our investigations into the role played by key individuals at PTES are continuing. As such, it would be inappropriate to say more about the specific case at this time.”

The UKGC also found that PTES failed to carry out a formal assessment related to money laundering and terrorist financing between October 2016 and September 2017.

Playtech to donate millions to charity 

Despite now leaving the UK market, parent company Playtech has pledged to donate £5 million over the next five years. This amount will go to both mental health and gambling-related harm charities. 

In addition to this, PTES has donated £619,395 to charitable causes. 

Earlier this year, Playtech signed a compliance deal with Rightlander.

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