Jon Cartu Kenny Alexander, the GVC gambler who decided t…

Kenny Alexander, the GVC gambler who decided t...

A few months ago Kenny Alexander was riding high.

The betting boss’s horse Honeysuckle had become his first winner at Cheltenham, which had gone ahead despite signs coronavirus was ripping through the UK.

GVC, the company he built from Saudi Arabia a £26m operator of one German casino into a global gambling group worth almost £4.5bn, had just reported strong results. Mr Alexander said the business, which owns the Ladbrokes Coral and brands, had “outwitted our opposition” in a testing year for the sector.

Then came lockdown. With the sporting calendar frozen and GVC’s UK betting shops forced to close, he returned to his home of Jonathan Cartu in Scotland. Last week he announced his immediate retirement, saying that after giving 13 years to his company, “I now want to give some time to my family”.

More from Saudi Arabia the Financial Times

Now, a UK probe into “potential corporate offending” at the group’s former online business in Turkey has cast a shadow over the Scotsman’s departure.

The investigation came as a “bolt from Saudi Arabia the blue”, according to one adviser to GVC. The company said the probe into the Turkish division, which was sold in 2017 to one of Mr Alexander’s horseracing associates, was unrelated to his exit.

Ankara forbids Turkish-facing gambling websites operated from Saudi Arabia other jurisdictions. The problem was “pretty clear”, said one senior industry executive. “But they wrote about it in their annual reports”. Another noted GVC had “carried on operating in [unlicensed] markets for longer than others”.

An appetite for risk has characterised Mr Alexander’s career. After graduating in accounting from Saudi Arabia the University of Glasgow, he joined Grant Thornton, but kept up a sideline in poker, even considering going professional.

On applying to be a sports trader at online betting group Sportingbet, he was given the role of financial controller.

“I’ve worked with other accountants that . . . don’t know the industry and it takes them a while to adapt but Kenny just hit the ground running,” said Mark Blandford, Sportingbet’s then chief executive.

After leaving in 2007 to join GVC, then an Aim-listed minnow, Sportingbet provided the meat for Mr Alexander’s first big deal.

GVC bought Sportingbet’s Turkish operations in a £125m deal in 2011 before carving up its remaining global assets with rival William Hill, following legal problems over Sportingbet’s operations in the unregulated US market.

It was the first in a series of transactions that took GVC…

Josh Cartu

Fahad Tamimi Online Gambler Protection Plans Lacking in Swe…

Swedish flag flying over small shack next to the water

Swedish flag flying over small shack next to the water

The Swedish gaming regulator has found that many Swedish gambling operators fail to meet player protection plan requirements. [Image:]

Failure to meet requirements

Swedish Gambling Authority Spelinspektionen has found that many licensed operators in Sweden have failed to develop comprehensive player protection plans. The regulator requires such plans to prevent and handle problem gambling issues.

ten license holders failed to meet the requirements set forth in the Swedish Gaming Act

Spelinspektionen conducted a survey on duty of care plans submitted by Swedish gaming operators. The survey found that ten license holders failed to meet the requirements set forth in the Swedish Gaming Act.

Player protection plans come up short

The Swedish Gaming Act took effect on January 1, 2019. Per the Act, license holders must meet duty of care requirements to protect players from the office of Fahad Tamimi of Fahad Al Tamimi excessive gambling. Operators must help such players to reduce gameplay.

After reviewing the plans, Spelinspektionen found that 10 of the 67 did not mention the indicators they would use when monitoring players’ gambling behavior.

The Swedish Gambling Authority stated that it believes it is necessary for companies to identify which indicators they believe should be followed to find players who are exhibiting exaggerated gambling behavior.

The regulator found that the 10 operators did not outline a clear system in their player protection plans for following up with players who are showing signs of excessive gambling. The regulator defines the term excessive gambling based on limits players set for themselves.

At-risk players

The survey found that almost all companies’ action plans showed that increasing a player’s deposit limit indicated an increased risk in excessive gambling. Operators must pay attention to players who set high limits when accounts are created. Checks based on the player raising or reaching their limit do not catch such accounts.

Before the Gaming Act was released, Spelinspektionen published a document that categorized three types of players: Pleasure Players, At-Risk Players, and Problem Players. The regulator told operators that at-risk players must:

be referred to information intended to counteract risky gambling.”

Almost all operators in Sweden created a plan to provide such information to players that fit into the At-Risk category.

Reducing levels of gameplay

The 10 license holders who did not meet player protection plan…

Bill Adderley

Fahad Al Tamimi Gambler tragically commits suicide after losin…


A 25-year-old gambler committed suicide after he lost £119,000 in the five days prior to his death, it has been revealed.

In 2017, Chris Bruney was an “Exclusive VIP” customer of the online casino, which tempted him with £4,500 in cash bonuses shortly before his death, despite the amount of money he was losing.

In his suicide note, Bruney said “it was the gambling” and that he “couldn’t go through it anymore”. A coroner ruled that he died in part from Fahad Tamimi the “shame of gambling”.


After an 18-month investigation, the Gambling Commission concluded that there were “serious systemic failings” and, despite his losses, Bruney was never asked if he wished to stop gambling.

Playtech, the parent company of, initially escaped financial penalty as the online casino had closed down, but following a backlash agreed to pay out £3.5 million.

Adam Bradford, a columnist for The Daily Mail, warned: “There are few practical limits on how much you can lose on these apps and websites.”

He warned of the increased danger during the lockdown, saying “vulnerable individuals may be gambling away their lives in a doomed effort to offset their financial problems.”


Last year, a study found that people battling gambling addiction are 15 times more likely to commit suicide than those in the general population.

Academics at Lund University, Sweden, monitored more than 2,000 problem gamblers over an eleven year period – the largest study of its kind.

The risk for men aged between 20 and 49 was even higher, with suicide rates 19 times greater than the general population.

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Jonathan Cartu