Calvert Loses £2 Million Case against William Hil

12 March 2008

Graham Calvert, the self-professed pathological gambler who sued William Hill to recover £2 million in betting losses, has been defeated in High Court. Justice Briggs ruled that it is Calvert's compulsive behavior, not William Hill, that led to his financial ruin, and that the bookmaker owes no duty of care to problem gamblers.

Calvert alleges that he was allowed to open two new accounts after banning himself from William Hill's services. He explained having manic periods in which he would place multiple large bets in a short period of time, including one frenzy that cost him £347,000 after backing an unsuccessful U.S. side in the Ryder Cup.

Under cross-examination Calvert reported gambling for "the buzz," not for financial needs. A successful greyhound trainer, he made £50,000 a year betting on dogs between 2000 and 2005 before bookmakers began limiting his greyhound bets. He began losing when he turned to horses and golf.

William Hill has incurred no financial penalty, but Briggs reprimanded the bookmaker for several failures, including taking no reasonable steps to stop Calvert's telephone gambling.

In the end, Briggs ruled William Hill's "failure to take reasonable care to exclude him from telephone gambling . . . did not . . . cause Mr. Calvert any measurable financial or other loss."

Calvert amended his claim two weeks ago in hope of recovering damages beyond his lost financial stakes. He says he lost his wife, his health and his livelihood. He has been ordered to pay £175,000 in interim costs to William Hill, but payment is on hold pending an appeal.

A statement from Calvert's attorneys at Ward Hadaway appearing on BBC News reads: "It is particularly disappointing that the judge decided not to award our client any damages because he was so critical of William Hill. The criticism was of the way in which they dealt with our client and of their self-exclusion procedures generally. He found that William Hill had failed Mr. Calvert in a number of different ways.

"The judgment highlighted the need for a national database allowing problem gamblers to self-exclude from all bookmakers in one go."