Merkur Investigated for Allegedly Exploiting Cancer Patient’s Slot Play

The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) is investigating Merkur, the high street slot machine operator, over allegations that it was exploiting a vulnerable player.

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Merkur runs a network of gaming centers across the UK where visitors can enjoy slots with stakes of up to £2 a spin. Often, these centers are open around the clock and as such, they are increasingly popular with players.

The company is owned by Germany’s Gauselmann Group and it operates 228 of these slot centers, making it the second-biggest in the UK, after Admiral Slots, which is owned by the Austrian company Novomatic.

Investigation Follows Guardian Report

The investigation was launched after a report in The Guardian last month about Wendy Hughes, a 64-year-old lung cancer patient, who lost more than £2,000 within 16 hours over two days of play at Merkur’s Stockport venue.

The report alleged that staff at the branch helped the woman continue playing by reserving her favorite slot machine when she went to withdraw more money in the middle of the night. The company has blamed staff and insists that it has the necessary customer protection measures in place as required by the UKGC.

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Revenue Continues to Grow

While the investigation continues, Merkur reported revenue growth of 17% to £202 million last year as part of its UK expansion project. However, due to its investment in expansion, the company has suffered losses of more than £9 million over the past two years.

The company has highlighted its commitment to responsible gambling and acknowledged that there are worries about the industry’s practices in the UK. Merkur has also faced a number of recent setbacks. For instance, it had to withdraw an application for a new venue in Sheffield after local opposition.


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