Gambler to sue bookies after losing £2.1m

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The Independent Online

A compulsive gambler is suing a betting chain for loses of £2.1 million after he asked to be barred, according to his solicitors.

Greyhound trainer Graham Calvert, 28, from Tyne and Wear, wants William Hill to pay back the money on the grounds they failed in their duty of care.

Solicitors Ward Hadaway, based in Newcastle, said the case will begin at the High Court next week.

Mr Calvert claims that the bookmaker allowed him to place bets when he had twice asked them to close his account and stop accepting bets from him - a process known as 'self-exclusion' - as he battled with gambling addiction.

He claims the betting firm allowed him to open two new accounts and to make bets totalling around £3.5 million between June and December 2006.

During this period he lost a total of £2.1 million. He lost around £347,000 in one bet alone when he backed the USA to win the 2006 Ryder Cup.

Peter Hornsey, the head of Mr Calvert's legal team, said the case is a crucial test of the industry's social responsibility policies.

"This case is important not just on a personal level for Mr Calvert but also for the betting industry as a whole," he said.

"It goes to the issue of how bookmakers treat people who have gambling problems via their self-exclusion policy and whether they can be held responsible when they advertise themselves as offering self exclusion and promoting socially-responsible gambling.

"For whatever reason, William Hill failed to operate its self-exclusion policy, with disastrous consequences for our client despite knowing that he had a gambling problem and we argue that they should be held responsible for that."

The case is due to start on Monday February 18 and is scheduled to last for five days.

Graham Sharpe, media relations manager for William Hill, said he did not want to comment on the particulars of the claim.

"The case will be heard in full in court," he said. "We will be contesting the case vigorously."

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