“A strong sensation that an event or experience currently being experienced has already been experienced in the past” is the dictionary definition of déjà vu that Sarah Harrison, the recently appointed Gambling Commission CEO may have looked up this week.
Since her tenure at the gambling regulator began she has walloped Coral bookmakers with a hefty fine for failing to “prevent money laundering and problem gambling”. She then booted Paddy Power up the proverbial for “encouraging a problem gambler to keep betting until he lost five jobs, his home and access to his children” and last week her handbag landed on Fred Done who was “found to have failed to meet his obligations on social responsibility and the prevention of money laundering”.
No wonder the Queen has just bestowed an MBE on the “consumer rights champion”!
Actually, that feeling of déjà vu goes back long before she even arrived at the Commission. In 2013 Ladbrokes copped a “telling off” for allowing money laundering in their shops in the North West of England. That was just before a Ladbrokes security manager revealed cover-ups on children gambling, criminality and money laundering and Coral have old form as well having been caught allowing almost £1 million to be laundered through their shops in the north east, again by a pathological problem gambler.
The new get tough regulator has ordered all monies made from the illegal proceeds be returned, donations are made to responsible gambling initiatives and costs are reimbursed.
Fred’s failures are so endemic that he has been ordered to appoint an “independent third party” to sort it all out. With Fred’s track record of linking his staff pay to the crack cocaine machines, offering 39.9% pay day loans to his own workers and then sacking them at Christmas, it will need to be a very “independent” third party or we may have déjà vu all over again.