Wealthy British businessman, Scott O’Brien, is taking legal action against a high-end sportsbook due to his inability to control his own compulsive gambling behavior, something he was aware of for decades. Between September 2018 and March 2019, Racing Post reported that O’Brien had gone on an extensive gambling spree and lost an excess of £100,000 (US$123,440) through Star Sports, although he admits to having spent much more than that.
For most of his adult life, O’Brien had been consumed by his addiction to gambling, despite having sought treatment. His addiction even led him to attempt suicide, but now he is seeking compensation from the sportsbook for his lack of self-control.
O’Brien disclosed that his behavior became more extreme after he sold his paper recycling company, Pulp Friction, for £9 million (US$11.11 million) in 2012. As a result, he spent more than £400,000 (US$493,760) at Star Sports’ Mayfair betting shop in London.
According to the lawsuit, O’Brien lost at least £48,859 (US$60,311) and potentially much more. He believes he also spent at least £100,000 through betting terminals, but cannot confirm the exact amount. Therefore, O’Brien is suing the company, claiming they failed to fulfill their “social responsibility” obligations and breached their contract.
When O’Brien appeared in court, he revealed that the staff at Star Sports were aware of his addiction and that he had joined the company because others had restricted him due to his gambling habits. He argued that Star Sports should have done more to prevent him from entering the betting establishment, as his compulsive behavior drove him to avoid being disqualified.
The bookmakers’ legal representatives are disputing the allegations, with the defense lawyer, Christopher Gillespie, calling them ludicrous. He added that the staff had no basis for assuming that O’Brien was dealing with any serious gambling addiction and questioned whether O’Brien was really a gambling addict or just trying to beat the system.
Gillespie highlighted that O’Brien had only made 17 trips to the Star Sports store in the six-month period, and that he had more profits than losses until March 30, 2019, according to the sportsbook’s records. He also mentioned that Star Sports had made considerable efforts to promote responsible gambling requirements, but made note that bookmakers are not generally obligated to protect gambling addicts from the consequences of their addiction.
This courtroom drama is likely to continue for the foreseeable future, and the outcome of the case will be determined by whether the judge believes that adults should be responsible for their own actions or if businesses should play a parental role.