Gambling Commission investigation leads to the closure of PTES

PT Entertainment Services has ceased operations in the UK after a Gambling Commission investigation found several “systematic failures.”

An investigation carried out by the Gambling Commission into systematic player protection failures at PT Entertainment Services (PTES) has led to the closure of the company.

The Commission launched an investigation into PTES, who used to trade as titanbet.co.uk and ww.winner.co.uk, after the regulator was contacted by the family of an individual who took his own life in April 2017 at the age of 25.

Although PTES surrendered its licence during the Commission’s investigation, the regulator decided to complete, continue, and publish its findings on the grounds of public interest.

The investigation

The UK regulator’s investigation identified “serious systematic failings” in the way the company managed its anti-money laundering (AML) processes and social responsibility.

In regard to the individual, the Commission concluded that the operator failed to carry out any responsible gambling interactions with the customer, even though it was aware that several of his debit card transactions had been declined.

The investigation also found that PTES provided VIP status without verifying affordability. The regulator stated that this represents “serious and unacceptable failings.”

The Commission also identified several more failings in how PTES interacted with its highest-spending customers. According to the investigation the operator’s social responsibility failings occurred between May 2015 and September 2017.

During the 2016-2017 period, the company had 240,126 active customers, of these customers, 633 (0.26%) of players were sent responsible gambling messaging via email.

In the Commission’s statement, the regulator said: “Prior to surrender of its operating licence, PTES made a number of financial settlement offers which the Commission regarded as seriously deficient. PTES proceeded to donate £619,395, the amount it proposed as a regulatory settlement offer on 30 October 2019, to charity in furtherance of the National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms.

“Playtech, its parent company, has also pledged to donate a total of £5 million to mental health and gambling-related harm charities over the next five years as part of its strategy to promote better online health.

“The Commission considers a financial penalty of at least £3.5 million would have been appropriate taking into account the Commission’s indicative sanctions guidance and the representations from PTES. Due to the surrender of the operating licence that sum was not adjudicated upon by a Regulatory Panel and PTES cannot be required to pay it.”

The Gambling Commission said that investigations into the role played by “key individuals” who still hold personal license are still being carried out.

What the Commission’s chief executive said

Neil McArthur, the Commission’s chief executive, said: “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. I want to thank them for their bravery in bringing his case to our attention and we are grateful for the way they have worked with us in such terrible circumstances so that we could understand what happened.

“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.

“This case – like so many others we have seen – illustrates why the management of so-called ‘high value customers’ has to change. Operators must do everything in their power to interact with customers responsibly. We will shortly be opening a consultation to make permanent changes to the way operators recruit and incentivise high value customers.’’

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