UK Gaming Scandals in 2018: Stabbing, Gabbing, Cheating, and Stealing

From a stabbing outside one of London’s leading casinos to poker cheats and some unlawful online practices, 2018 has been yet another year of controversy for the UK gaming industry.

Will Kassouf

British poker pro Will Kassouf was among the year’s biggest losers after a drunken incident cost him his sponsorship deal. (Image: World Poker Tour)

Knifed at Casino

In July, the country was rocked by another knife attack. With Londoners on high alert after a spate of similar incidents across the capital, tragedy struck outside of Leicester Square’s Empire Casino.

Although information on the attack was lacking at the time, it later emerged that the victim, David Downes, worked for the casino. Why he was attacked was unclear, but reports linked it to a wave of crime that had swept across London and seen 51 people fatally wounded since the start of 2018.

After receiving hospital treatment, Downes made a full recovery and his attacker was later charged, thanks to the quick thinking of a customer. Seeing the discarded knife, the casino patron took it inside for safe-keeping, a move that led to the arrest and sentencing of Kien Nguyen.

In Cahoots

As the drama of Leicester Square’s stabbing reverberated across the UK gaming industry, two more casinos found themselves in the spotlight. First to make the headlines were a pair of poker cheats inside Glasgow’s Alea Casino.

Playing a variant of Casino Hold’em, one player raised suspicions after making strange gestures at the table. A nearby player alerted the security team, who proceeded to arrest the player and the dealer.

Investigating the situation, it turned out the man was using an electronic device to read the cards with the help of the dealer. The accused was later identified by locals as ‘Billy the Egyptian’, and both he and the Alea employee were banned from the venue, but weren’t charged.

Too Much Drink Sinks Poker Pro

From one poker cheat to another, British pro Will Kassouf found himself in hot water this year after stealing casino chips. After bursting onto the scene during the 2015 World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event, the outspoken Kassouf was silenced in September after a drunken outburst.

Following a betting session with friends, images that went viral online showed Kassouf pocketing £100 chips from one of his tablemates. The result: he lost his lucrative sponsorship deal with Grosvenor.

“As a result of this embarrassing incident, my sponsor, Grosvenor Poker and I have agreed to mutually part ways,” Kassouf wrote on social media in an aftermath mea culpa.

Operators Slapped by UKGC

It wasn’t just Kassouf that found himself in hot water in 2018. Back in February, William Hill was slapped with a £6.2 million fine for failing to use proper anti-money-laundering measures.

According to a UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) report, ten customers were able to make deposits from criminal proceeds. Just eight months later, Paddy Power Betfair found itself in the dock for a similar offence.

Reviewing suspicious account activity, the UKGC found that a player was allowed to deposit £654,000 over the course of nine months, despite earning £30,000 per annum. For failing to adequately check the customer’s credentials, the Irish bookmaker was fined £2.2 million.

Betting Foul for Sturridge

As the year came to a close, footballer Daniel Sturridge was at the centre of another betting scandal. Linked to activity ahead of his January transfer to West Brom, the issue under scrutiny was whether Sturridge leaked information to a member of the public.

Although the bet was a loser, both Sturridge and the punter were suspected of breaching UK betting laws and, moreover, the FA’s codes of practice. The incident has since relaunched the debate over footballers and betting, something that will remain a part of the UK gaming industry’s narrative going into 2019.

Share Now: