Billionaire Betfred Owners Linked to Debt Counselling Companies7 months ago
Bookmakers Betfred have come under fire after it was revealed that one of the billionaire owners funded a company designed to help people struggling with debt.
It was also revealed this week that Betfred owners Fred Done, along with brother Peter, also own a company ‘that provides services including gambling addiction counselling’, according to the Guardian newspaper.
Labour MP Carolyn Harris hit out at the family business empire, stating:
“They get paid when you gamble, they get paid when you seek help for it and they get paid when you try to clear your debts.”
76-year old Fred Done reportedly invested £150,000 in Angel Advance, a debt management company part-owned by Done family members, which often charges fees to negotiate with customers’ creditors.
The company, however, do not mention gambling problems among their money-saving tips, although they do advise customers in difficulty to contact the Samaritans.
“It’s about how they can make the most of the vulnerable and squeeze blood out of a stone. It’s characteristic of the mentality of this industry,” Harris said.
The Done brothers also own Health Assured, a company which ‘provides gambling counselling to staff who work at NHS trusts and in parliament’.
The Dones, who gifted £375,000 to the Conservative party that has been in government for the past 10 years, came under fire from another politician when this was revealed earlier in the week, also by the Guardian.
SNP MP Ronnie Cowan stated:
“The Dones created the problem, then paid money to support the Tory party and then the Tory government uses taxpayers money to pay them to fix the problem they created. And we wonder why people don’t trust politicians!”
GambleAware Chief Executive Marc Etches claimed the situation “understandably raises concerns about a potential conflict of interest”, explaining that:
“It is important that anyone who is experiencing gambling harms has access to appropriate support.”
The companies have refuted suggestions they have such a conflict of interests, both claiming they are “separate and independent of each other” with regard to Betfred.
The news comes on the back of several recent gambling industry hits in the UK.
Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs) were reduced from offering £100 bets to just £2 maximum stakes, hitting firms badly.
Just last month, on-course bookmakers were hit with fines for allowing under-age betting.
That came just days after an announcement by the United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC) that using credit cards for betting would be illegal from April 14th 2020 onwards.
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