One of the world’s largest online betting exchange operators, Betfair, has slammed the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) and William Hill for following a joint lawsuit that could see cuts in the sport’s prize money.
The legal action comes in the form of a judicial review of the Horserace Betting Levy Board (HBLB) – a body that collects money from bookmakers to fund the sport – pursued to challenge HBLB’s stance that betting exchange punters cannot be classified as “leviable bookmakers”.
Chief legal officer of Betfair, Martin Cruddace expressed his discontent in a report by the Telegraph. He said he reckons the action could cost the HBLB and the BHA a total £3.5m in legal fees, with its costs for first-stage litigation amounting to £1.7m, which, of course, is utterly ridiculous.
“It is important owners, trainers and others within the sport are aware that the BHA, the sports regulator, is in this committed love-in with William Hill that will cost the industry over £3m in prize money,” Cruddace said.
He added: “It may be William Hill can pay these sickeningly large legal fees as it refuses to pay a penny in levy from the tens of millions profit it makes from its online business, but the Levy Board – who have no choice but to defend the action – and the BHA cannot.”
However, the Levy Board chief executive, Douglas Erskine Crum, thinks it’s more likely to be “between £300,000 and £600,000”. Hmm.
Mr Cruddace forewarned both the BHA and William Hill that if they lose the case, “we will be seeking costs against them. So the BHA is risking even more millions”. Touché.
But in retaliation – William Hill chief executive, Ralph Topping, said Betfair is “looking at this, entirely from their point of view. We have a Cruddace index at William Hill. The more he bleats the more confident we are of our case”.
This all came about because the HBLB received legal advice last summer from Lord Pannick QC and Michael Fordham QC, who said that “customers of betting exchanges do not constitute leviable bookmakers under the Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Act 1963”. But a BHA spokesman said some other QCs don’t agree on the interpretation of the Act, saying it was “fair that it should be for the courts to decide” – hence the legal action.
Fair enough, but is it worth all that dosh? Betfair doesn’t seem to think so. Do you?
While we’re on the topic of William Hill news; the bookmaker confirmed last weekend that it had been saved a massive payout after it failed to snow anywhere in Britain on Christmas day. Not only did it not snow – it was the third warmest Christmas day before records began. T’old Willie must be happy as larry for successfully avoiding any payouts for novelty bets over the festive period.
In other business news, iGaming manufacturers TCSJOHNHUXLEY announced the appointment of a new Senior Business Development Manager today. That man is none other than Tim Klok, who will be starting his first shift on 3rd January 2012. Reporting directly to Commercial and Manufacturing Director Angus Noble, Tim will be based in the Stoke-on-Trent facility in England and will be responsible for sales to mainland Europe.
Angus Noble said in a press release: “It is with great pleasure that we welcome Tim back to the TCSJOHNHUXLEY team. He joins us at challenging but very exciting time and I’m sure everyone wishes him much success in his new role.”