The UK Gambling Commission have issued a statement with regard to the way in which now defunct bookmaker Betbright dealt with ante-post bets at the time of the sale of it’s IT and technology assets to 888.com at the beginning of March for a sum of £15M.
Betbright had previously been in our list of partner friendly bookmakers and were well known to the matched betting community as they were often very quick to restrict customers bets. In recent months Betbright had reduced the welcome offer and offered very few reload offers.
At the time of the sale Betbright announced that all ante-post bets were to be voided . However this left many punters furious as they had placed and paid for bets in good faith that the online bookmaker would not be honouring . For example some punters had large bets ante post that were almost guaranteed to be winners eg Huddersfield to be relegated from Premier League. In recent months Betbright had reduced the value of their welcome offer and offered very few reload offers.
888 last week found itself caught in the middle of the dispute and offered Betbright customers some refuge by deciding to honour all horse racing ante post bets held by Betbright at the time of the sale .
In the statement the Gambling Commission commented “We've carefully looked at the situation with BetBright, during our inquiries the operator highlighted the very real possibility of going into insolvent liquidation if it remained open. This would have resulted in customers receiving no winnings, and no refunds on stakes placed. "This was a significant risk for BetBright's customers and therefore we're content the return of stakes, as part of an orderly closure of the business, is the best option available for the vast majority of customers in what is an unusual and difficult situation."
Whilst it is easy to see why the Gambling Commission would take this view that returning all stakes to punters is the best option given the circumstances it is still not a good position for many punters who stand to lose thousands of pounds .
As the Gambling Commission is the UK regulator for the betting industry tasked with ensuring that gambling in the UK is both safe and fair it does not seem that either of those objectives are being met in this case .
Surely it is time for the Gambling Commission to bring forward better protection for punters in these circumstances perhaps by requiring bookmakers to take out some insurance for their ante-post liabilities or to require online bookmakers to provide a bond , held by an independent 3rd party which will cover to a certain % the extent of some of those liabilities . This is of course going to run into some very large figures as punters everyday are placing bets with potential payouts of ££Millions . However unless something is done by the Gambling Commission to better protect punters the trust in online bookies will continue to fall.