Gambler sues bookmaker to recover £2.1m lost
A problem gambler whose addiction cost him his marriage and business
is taking betting chain William Hill to court to try to reclaim £2.1m he
lost in six months.
trainer Graham Calvert, 28, from Sunderland, claims that William Hill failed in
its duty of care towards him by allowing him to open a new account two months
after he requested that they close his account.
"self-exclusion" from several bookmakers, including Ladbrokes and Stan James as
well as William Hill, after betting thousands of pounds on horses, once placing
20 bets of £30,000 in one day. Calvert went on to lose £2.1m in six
months after re-opening his account, between June and December 2006. Bets
included a record £347,000 on the US to win the 2006 Ryder Cup, a bet
that made headlines at the time.
His wife and children left him in December of that year and he has
since lost his training licence and business. He had earned up to £30,000
William Hill says that it provides a self-exclusion facility
"enabling customers to close their account or accounts for a minimum period of
six months up to five years as requested".
Spokesman Graham Sharpe
declined to comment on the case but said that self-exclusion was not foolproof
as people who requested it could open accounts in other names or ask someone
else to place bets for them. He said it was the "customer's responsibility" to
The bookmaker will deny wrongdoing and fight the
allegations when the case begins in the high court next Monday.
Self-exclusion is a process whereby someone can request to have their
account with a betting shop closed. Guidance from the Association of British
Bookmakers says that if a customer requests self-exclusion the account must be
closed and cannot be opened for a minimum of six months, even if the customer
asks to reopen it.
The Gambling Act 2005, which came into force last
September, says that gambling operators are obliged to put in place procedures
for self-exclusion and should take all reasonable steps to ensure the
self-exclusion period is for a minimum of six months.
dispute resolution expert at Clarion Solicitors in Leeds, says that even though
William Hill does have a self-exclusion policy he would be surprised if the
court rules in favour of Calvert "as this could open the floodgates to similar
claims by others with gambling habits".
But he added that "regardless
of the outcome, the court is likely to look closely at the extent of any duty
of care owed by gambling institutions to customers with known gambling
problems. Even if Mr Calvert is unsuccessful, this could have far-reaching
consequences for the industry."