Dorset law firm reaches £6m milestone in gambling cases

Tuesday, April 23, 2024

A Dorset law firm which recovers about £1m a year for gamblers has warned that betting companies are increasingly targeting women to maximise profits.

Ellis Jones Solicitors has just hit the £6m mark for losses recouped for its clients as the result of the failings of betting operators.

Its 14-strong specialist Betting and Gaming Disputes Team is dealing with rising numbers of women hooked by bingo style online sites.

The law firm, with 178 staff including 21 partners, has warned that ‘lives are at stake’ from gambling – and that the development of such technology as VR and augmented reality could make the situation worse.

Paul Kanolik, a partner at Ellis Jones who heads up the Betting and Gaming Disputes Team, said: “We have dealt with a lot of incredibly sad cases.”

“Lives are at stake through gambling. It is not just people who are tragically taking their own lives, but those that are being ruined because of the mental health and financial impacts, as well as the toll it exacts on their relationships.

“I have dealt with many cases which have resulted in severe mental health issues, divorce, as well as financial problems. For every gambler there can be four, five, six or more other people affected too.”

Ellis Jones has reached the £6m milestone in losses regained for clients over the past seven years. Amounts of £1m and £760,000 have been among the greatest totals recouped.

Often the claims relate to vulnerable gamblers who have been allowed to carry on betting by operators even when it was clear they were addicted or could not afford the amounts they were continuing to stake.

They included a case from 2019 when Ellis Jones recovered more than £100,000 for a 32-year-old man from the South East, which represented 89% of his net losses.

In the process, the firm argued that the betting operator breached the Gambling Commission’s social responsibility code because it failed to protect the client as a vulnerable customer.

Most of Ellis Jones’ cases – around 90% - are related to online betting. The majority of clients are men in a variety of age groups, although most commonly in their 30s and 40s.

But the firm has also noticed a trend among operators to target female gamblers and has recorded a rise in cases involving women.

Paul said: “There has been a drive to target women with gambling adverts over the last few years, bingo in particular.

“Some sites, apps and adverts are now quite feminised and clearly aimed at women. We have certainly been acting for more women.”

The comments come after a gambling white paper consultation period closed in October. The industry is awaiting the outcome and next steps by the government.

Paul said that awareness about the potential harm from gambling addiction is increasing, along with the support available to those affected. Ellis Jones has published its own leaflet with advice and signposting to tools and services.

Ellis Jones’ 14-strong Betting and Gaming Disputes Team includes partners Paul Kanolik and William Fox Bregman, senior associate solicitor Tim McMahon and solicitor Daniel Lewis.

Paul added: “We have acted for a large number of individuals and businesses in relation to gambling-related matters, many of whom have been all-consumed by their gambling and whose lives have been greatly and adversely affected by it.

“It is always a satisfying moment to recover money for a client, especially in circumstances where it can allow them to get their life back on track financially but also if it helps them to close a chapter in their life and to move on from their gambling.”

Ellis Jones has offices in Bournemouth, Poole, Ringwood, Swanage, Wimborne and London.

Visit for more about how Ellis Jones supports people with gambling issues.