With the Cheltenham Festival trials just over a week away, the gambling industry has faced criticism for a number of reasons.
It began with the announcement that credit cards will not be able to be used when gambling online from 14 April, a positive change that many say has come too late.
The Head of mental health services in England Claire Murdoch, wrote to five major betting companies on Thursday, focusing on concerns she had about problem gamblers being targeted by betting firms.
She warned that offering people VIP experiences, tickets and free bets “all proactively prompt people back into the vicious gambling cycle which many want to escape.”
“The gambling industry has a responsibility to prevent the occasional flutter turning into a dangerous habit”.
With over thirty years of nursing experience, Murdoch said she had seen the “devastating impact on the mental wellbeing of addiction” first hand.
However, yesterday it was released that the billionaire owners of Betfred, the Done brothers have been profiting from a business that treats public sector staff for health problems, which includes gambling addiction.
In addition to owning Betfred, Fred and Peter Done also own Health Assured.
Health assured runs Employee Assistance Programmes which offer companies and public sector organisations with services staff can access to improve their wellbeing.
“The example of gambling companies providing clinics to treat the very people they have stoked… is I think hypocrisy and tokenism” Murdoch said in regards to the scandal.
This type of backlash isn’t new to the betting firm, with a history of criticism for its poor treatment of employees and problem gamblers. They’ve also been accused of underpaying staff for holiday, and trying to cheat new regulations that lowered the maximum stake on some machines from £100 to £2 with PaddyPower. All of which happened in 2019.
With the Cheltenham Festival approaching, a lot of bookmakers might be worried about their earnings.
However, since the credit card ban doesn’t come in until after the Grand National (a move many have criticised), the Cheltenham Festival in March is unlikely to be hugely affected.