Betfair’s reluctance to pay out “failed bets” has would-be winners crying foul

betfair-failed-betsThe ill feeling created when betting exchange Betfair’s outgoing chairman Ed Wray barred the UK media from its AGM last week shows no sign of abating. In the days following the AGM, The Telegraph profiled a punter who claimed Betfair had unfairly seized £52k from his account. Now the Telegraph is championing the cause of horse racing bettors who lost thousands after Betfair failed to process their winning bets at Newmarket last Friday.

Following the action at Newmarket, which produced a record £2.9m Tote Jackpot, Betfair spokesman Tony Calvin announced that the day had not gone off without a hitch. “We are aware that some customers experienced some issues while placing their Tote Jackpot bets this afternoon, and are working with the Tote to ascertain the exact cause and nature of the problem.” Tote’s George Primarolo subsequently said there had been “an issue with the money getting from Betfair into the pool. If it was our end, all sources through that gateway would have suffered, it would not have been a problem unique to Betfair.”

Although the finger of suspicion was now firmly pointed their way, Betfair decided not to honor the would-be winning wagers, saying only that it had “returned funds associated with failed bets” and that “at no point were these customers given confirmation that their bets had been successfully placed, or appeared as placed in their account statement”. But in a conversation with the Telegraph, punter Nick Bradley claims his £12k bet had been “taken out of” his Betfair account at the time. Bradley stood to gain £4,610 profit if his wager had gone through, while a few small scale bettors should have earned £16k apiece.

Bradley told the Racing Post that he didn’t expect to “get treated like this” after paying £400k in Betfair commissions over the years. “Peer-to-peer betting is the best idea to have come out of the betting industry but the way they [Betfair] run it is a shambles. The site must go down once a week, so everyone who has bets placed and who might want to change them in running can’t do it.” Betfair apologized to all those affected by the cock-up, but suggested that in future bettors “avoid the last 15 minutes” before a bet when Betfair’s technical underpinnings were stressed to (and occasionally beyond) their breaking point.

While this latest brouhaha revolves around winning bets, Betfair also has a reputation as the only game in town for people who wish to wager on a horse/athlete/team to lose. Yesterday, two work riders in Ireland were found guilty of using the betting exchange to wager against their stable’s horses. The Independent reports that Kaname Tsuge and Gosuke Motoki, who were employed by Aidan O’Brien at Ballydoyle, were each fined €2k plus court costs. The relative leniency of the sentence was in part because the two men claimed to have “had no knowledge that what they were doing was wrong” and their unimipressive betting records (a combined 95 ‘lay’ bets on Ballydoyle horses over a three-year period for a combined profit of €550) suggest the pair weren’t really using any specific inside knowledge to their benefit.