Ladbrokes Australia Sued over “Grooming” Problem Gambler


Gambling operator Ladbrokes has been found to have “groomed” an Australian problem gambler who defrauded the company he worked at of more than A$3 million to feed his gambling addiction.

The betting brand, part of the larger Entain gambling group, is sued by litigators for about A$5.1 million in a court action over its participation in its customer’s illicit actions.

Jaicome Spinella, who worked at Melbourne-based concreting firm Bauen Concrete, admitted to loading more than A$3.1 million in company funds into his personal Ladbrokes betting account between December 2016 and July 2017.

Mr. Spinella was solely responsible for Bauen’s finances. He ran the company alongside his brother and a friend. Being in charge of company money, he used Bauen’s credit card to top up his betting account on 571 separate occasions over the above-noted seven-month period.

He finally came clean in mid-2017. Liquidators were called in and 50 employees at his company lost their jobs. It is understood that Mr. Spinella cooperated with liquidators, police, and ASIC and admitted to “lending himself” more than A$3 million and acting to the company’s detriment.

On Monday, he pleaded guilty to one rolled up charge of dishonesty. He moved to Brisbane after Bauen was liquidated where he was diagnosed with a gambling and an alcohol dependency disorder. He traveled to Melbourne to appear before the Victoria County Court in person on Monday. Mr. Spinella now has to remain in custody until Friday when he will be sentenced.

Ladbrokes Failed to Help the Problem Gambler

Ladbrokes has been hit with a A$5.1 million lawsuit over its alleged failure to prevent Mr. Spinella from misappropriating company funds and help him with his gambling problem.

Mr. Spinella’s lawyer, Nadia Kaddeche, said Monday that there were internal emails between Ladbrokes staff that apparently read “gamblers as bad as Jaicome come along once in a lifetime, so make sure we keep him on.”

Judge Michael Cahill said that these emails sounded like the gambling operator had “groomed” its gambler and that “there does appear to be some level of interference … if not exploitation” by the major sports betting brand.

Mr. Spinella’s lawyer said in court that her client’s gambling escalated because at one point he began trying to earn back the money he had gambled away. Ms. Kaddeche pointed out that his gambling addiction “became too much for him.”

The Ladbrokes customer is facing prison term for his actions. Judge Cahill said this kind of sentence was inevitable because of the amount of money Mr. Spinella had misappropriated to feed their gambling addiction.

This is not the first time Ladbrokes has been in regulatory trouble in Australia. Last year, the company was slapped with a record fine in New South Wales for offering residents of the state inducements to gamble in a manner that breached local gambling rules and regulations.

Source: Ladbrokes ‘groomed’ chronic gambler: judge, Yahoo!News, May 3, 2021