Coroner warns more could die as a result of bookmaker’s ‘inadequate’ safeguards

More deaths could occur unless the parent company of betting exchange Betfair does more to protect customers, the coroner in the gambling-related suicide of Luke Ashton has warned.

Ivan Cartwright said Flutter Entertainment’s controls “were and are inadequate” to protect people with gambling problems. He accused the company of doing only what was necessary to meet regulatory requirements, rather than following best practices to prevent harm. Flutter has 56 days to respond.

Cartwright issued the warning in a letter to Flutter chief executive Peter Jackson, who has been paid £11.3m over the past two years. She also sent a copy of the letter to the Gambling Commission and to Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer, who oversees government proposals to reform gambling regulation.

Last month, the Leicestershire coroner delivered a landmark ruling on the 2021 suicide of Luke Ashton, who took his own life after a period of addiction during which he placed up to 100 bets a day online and racked up £18,000 in debt.

The ruling, which found disorderly gambling was a factor in Ashton’s death, is believed to be the first of its kind.

In a conclusion to accompany the verdict, delivered last month, Cartwright said Betfair, which gave Ashton £5 “free bet” offers, had not “significantly interacted or intervened with Luke” in the lead up to his death.

Flutter, the £28bn international betting firm that owns Betfair, says it has significantly improved its safer betting measures since then.

But on Wednesday, in his letter to Jackson, Cartwright said he believed there was still a risk of future deaths due to “inadequate” security measures.

He said: “In my opinion, there is a risk of future deaths unless action is taken. Given the circumstances, it is my legal duty to inform you.”

Cartwright said the company’s safer gaming tools “do not equate to any meaningful interaction” with customers who may show signs of addiction.

Cartwright said algorithms designed by Flutter to flag patrons who were gambling excessively appeared to have failed because they judged Ashton’s play not to be “exceptional”, despite an increase in his playing time, deposits and losses.

It added that Betfair “appears to judge the extent of its responsibilities to gaming customers solely against industry (regulatory) standards, rather than current good or best practice.”

Flutter, which also owns Paddy Power and Sky Betting & Gaming, said it would respond formally.

The company said it had made “significant changes to our controls since 2021 and will of course incorporate additional learnings from this tragic case into our systems and processes.

“We wish to reiterate our sincere condolences to Ms. Ashton and her family. We are very sorry for the loss of her.”

Ashton was a member of a Betfair “rewards” scheme whose members were eligible for a £5 “free” bet every month.

The Gambling Commission said it was reviewing such incentives, as part of the government’s white paper on gambling reform.

But the Commission will take no further action against Flutter. This is because Ashton’s gambling took place while the company was under “special measures” triggered by separate incidents, which the regulator said had already led the company to improve its controls and pay a £635,000 fine.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport said: “Our thoughts are with Luke’s family and friends. This tragic case shows the devastating impact that gambling addiction can have on people’s lives.

“Gambling companies can and should check and intervene when customers show signs of being at risk of harm.

“We are increasing protections for people who experience problem gambling and the independent gaming regulator will tighten obligations on companies to check whether losses from high spending customers are a sign that their gambling could be out of control.” .

In the UK and Ireland, Samaritans can be contacted by calling toll free on 116 123, or by emailing or In the US, you can call or text the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline to 988, chat at, or text HOME to 741741 to connect with a crisis counselor. In Australia, the Lifeline crisis support service is 13 11 14. Other international helplines can be found at

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