BUSINESS

‘Technical fault’ causes Betfair to void £1.6m of wagers at Christmas Hurdle

TAGs: Betfair, Christmas Hurdle, Leopardstown, Voler la Vedette

betfair-christmas-hurdle-void-betsBetfair is closing out the year on a sour note after voiding over £1.6m worth of in-running wagers on a horse at the Christmas Hurdle in Leopardstown on Wednesday. The controversy arose after a lone Betfair punter was somehow allowed to lay Colm Murphy’s mare Voler la Vedette at 28-1 odds, despite the horse being a 13-8 second favorite, and the generous odds were still being offered long after it became apparent that the horse was on its way to victory. Betfair suspended the market following the race, then, after a nearly three hour delay, issued the following statement:

“An investigation has revealed that this was due to an obvious technical fault which allowed a customer to exceed their exposure limit. In accordance with our terms and conditions, all in running bets on this race, both win and place, will be made void. We fully appreciate the dissatisfaction this will cause many customers, and apologize for a very poor customer and betting experience.”

In the wake of Betfair’s announcement, various conspiracy theories have been floating, including speculation that a fumble-fingered punter may have simply missed the decimal point in the horse’s Starting Price of 2.96. Had the £1,642,094 in accepted wagers been honored, it would have resulted in a payout of over £23m split between an estimated 150-250 punters. However, screenshots of Betfair’s graph showed a total of £21m had been offered on Voler la Vedette’s overly generous odds, which could have resulted in a liability of over £600m. Even the lower figure was sufficiently enormous to raise questions regarding the punter’s identity, and how/why Betfair’s technology allowed him to swim so far from shore. Betfair subsequently issued a followup statement that sought to clarify that “the account in question has no commercial relationship with Betfair other than being a customer.”

Betfair spokesman Tony Calvin told the Racing Post the brouhaha stemmed from “an obvious error in the fact that the horse was 28 passing the line. To offer that kind of amount you would have to have £600 million in your account and anybody backing it at that price knew that something was wrong. It is clearly a technical failure that somebody somewhere was able to place a bet with that liability.” Calvin told The Telegraph that the focus of Betfair’s followup investigation would be uncovering “how this bet was placed. At Betfair, if you attempt to place a bet and you don’t have the funds to pay out, then it is rejected.” But in this case, the bet wasn’t rejected, and Calvin confessed the exchange wasn’t yet sure whether the cock-up was “by accident or design.”

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