Coroner raises serious concerns about the risk of future deaths following inquest into gambling addiction death


The inquest into the death of Luke Ashton, 40, concluded on 29 June 2023 that Luke died as a result of a gambling disorder and a lack of meaningful intervention from Betfair, an online gambling operator owned by Flutter, a multi-billion pound gambling company. The conclusion at Luke’s inquest is believed to be the first time that such findings have been recorded at an inquest.

Following the inquest, the Coroner has now issued a Report to Prevent Future Deaths (PFD) to Betfair, the Gambling Commission and Lucy Frazer MP, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, to raise serious concerns about the risk of further deaths if actions are not taken.

The Coroner’s PFD report identifies that:

  1. Betfair’s player protection tools were and are inadequate to protect a person in Luke’s position and do not amount to any meaningful interaction or intervention;
  2. Betfair’s algorithm failed to flag Luke as a ‘problem gambler’, despite the increases in time spent gambling and the size of his deposits and losses, because his gambling behaviour was not deemed to be exceptional;
  3. Betfair appears to judge the extent of its responsibilities to customers solely with regard to industry/regulatory standards, rather than current good or best practice in order to prevent harm.

Jesse Nicholls acted for Luke’s wife, Annie Ashton, instructed by Merry Varney and Dan Webster at Leigh Day.

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