Playtech “takes full responsibility” for PTES failings

28 May 2020

Gaming solutions giant Playtech has issued an apology for the failings of its PT Entertainment Services (PTES) subsidiary that ultimately saw a customer take their own life.

The case saw a customer sign up for an account in December 2016, ultimately spending £4.5m (€5.0m/$5.5m) on PTES’ Winner and Titanbet brands - losing £119,395 between 1 to 5 April 2017 alone - before committing suicide.

The Gambling Commission’s investigation uncovered widespread failings in the business’ social responsibility and anti-money laundering processes that resulted in no action being taken over the individual’s excessive gambling.

Playtech said it takes full responsibility for the failings.

“The regulatory breaches identified in PTES between 2015 and 2017 were not reflective of the high standards the Playtech Group set itself at the time and not representative of the high standards the Group delivers to its B2B partners today,” it said.

Playtech’s board extended its “deepest sympathies” to the victim’s family. Its interim chair, Claire Milne, will be contacting the family to apologise personally for the B2C subsidiary’s failings.

Milne led a review into the business’ response to the case, and noted that “decisive action” had been taken to address PTES’ failings before it surrendered its British B2C licences. This saw a number of key management and personal management licence holders leave the business, with PTES brought under the group compliance function to improve oversight of the division.

The supplier noted that the decision to give up its licences was part of a strategic decision taken before the Commission’s investigation began, to focus on B2B activities in Great Britain.

Furthermore, Playtech will increase the £619,395 donated by PTES to charities dedicated to reducing gambling harms to £3.5m. This, Playtech said, matches the figure that the Gambling Commission would have levied as a fine had PTES not surrendered its licences.

Interim chair Milne said the investigation’s findings “do not reflect where Playtech stands today”.

“But while the company has made many positive and important changes, we feel it is only right for us to recognise these historic failings by offering this increased amount,” she said. “In speaking with many of our stakeholders, it was clear they felt the failings were not representative of the Playtech they know. Through this action, we want to send a message to them and the wider industry of who we are today and aspire to be.
 
“Raising industry standards on safer gambling and being a leader in responsible business is central to our strategy as a technology partner,” Milne added. “In my new role as interim chairman, I am fully committed to this continuing to be a key focus of ours going forward.”

As outlined in the Commission’s assessment of the case, Playtech has committed £5m to promote better understanding of “healthy online living” and the relationship between mental health and online gambling.

Playtech added that it had made the development of safer products, analytics solutions and player engagement tools a central part of its strategy, through partnerships with operators, charities and a academics to raise standards in the industry.
 
It pointed to the acquisition of behavioural analytics platform BetBuddy as an example of its efforts to help clients identify and manage at-risk players. The business also aimed to “break down barriers to adoption” of safer gambling technology and tools by making these accessible and affordable to partners.

The solutions giant added that it is leading industry efforts on responsible game design through an industry working group, and contributed to the development of the GB industry’s safer gambling commitments.
 
“We take full responsibility for these regulatory breaches,” chief executive More Weizer said. “As a technology specialist, Playtech focuses on harnessing its capabilities in data-driven intelligence to place consumer protection at the centre of every stage of the player experience from game design to real-time engagement and messaging.

“In recent years, we have invested significantly to seek to ensure that these types of breaches do not happen again, including addressing the specific issues raised by the Commission.”