YORK’S top judge has compared betting companies to drug dealers and told them to “pay up” to a fraudster’s victim.
The Recorder of York, Judge Sean Morris, was sentencing a gambler who cheated a friend out of £107,000 over three years and spent the money on gambling with three different companies.
Michael Driffield was addicted to gambling and though he had tried to stop, betting companies had kept sending him emails, texts, offers of “free wagers” and similar enticements to continue gambling, said his solicitor advocate Peter Minnikin.
The judge called gambling a drug at York Crown Court and said: “These people are pushing a drug.”
He added: “Anyone who is in a position to watch daytime television will know the sheer amount of peddling of gambling that goes on. It is shameful.
“It creates misery, and a quick micro flash saying ‘when the fun stops, stop’ has no effect.”
He said the gambling companies used by Driffield bore a “very heavy responsibility”.
But he told Driffield: “It doesn’t absolve you. You are a man with free will.”
He jailed Driffield for two years and eight months.
He added: “I expect the companies to pay up in this case and if they don’t they should hang their heads in shame, the managing directors.”
He ordered that his comments be sent to the companies that took Driffield’s bets – SkyBet, which blocked his account, William Hill and Bet365.
Driffield, 28, of Oak Road, Ripon, pleaded guilty to fraud.
In a personal statement, the victim said: “He lied to me virtually every day for three years.”
Rob Galley, prosecuting, said Driffield had drained the victim of all his savings, got him to be his guarantor for £15,500 in loans and left him with a county court judgement that would affect his chances of getting credit in future.
Solicitors for the CPS and Driffield have already contacted the betting companies about repayment, York Crown Court was told.