Sportsbet gambler challenges bookie’s right to limit his betting activity

TAGs: Australia, Sportsbet, The Star

australia-sportsbet-suedAn Australian gambler is suing online gambling outfit Sportsbet for allegedly stopping his winning ways. Robert MacMillan has filed suit with the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT), seeking $35k in damages from the Aussie offshoot of Irish betting firm Paddy Power. In his filing, the 55-year-old MacMillan says he opened his Sportsbet account in 2005, after which he wagered for “many years with, for the most part, me losing money to Sportsbet.”

MacMillan’s luck changed towards the end of 2012, when he went on a five-week hot streak that put him $22.5k in the black, $14k of which was earned on a single day in late December. In early January, Sportsbet allegedly reduced MacMillan’s wagering options to the point where he “could no longer bet doubles or, indeed, any racing multiples at all.” MacMillan is protesting the fact that Sportsbet appeared quite content to take his action so long as he was losing. The Herald Sun reported that MacMillan arrived at the $35k damages sum based on what he believes he would have earned had he been able to continue his hot streak.

At a hearing on April 19, Sportsbet’s lawyer Adrian Ryan argued that the terms of service posted on the company’s website clearly stated that it could set limits on its customers’ wagering habits or even decide not to accept their wagers entirely. Ryan also argued that the VCAT shouldn’t be hearing the claim in the first place because Sportsbet holds a license issued by the Northern Territory. Unmoved, the VCAT president dismissed the jurisdictional argument and ordered Sportsbet to file a formal reply to MacMillan’s allegations by May 31.

As for MacMillan’s estimate of the damages he’s owed, the VCAT will likely remind MacMillan that past performance is not indicative of future results. That said, the issue of whether Sportsbet has the right to restrict MacMillan’s – or anyone else’s – wagering activities could have ramifications for all Australian betting outfits. Considering the strident anti-gambling tone of many of the country’s politicians, even if Sportsbet prevails, could gambling outfits’ T&C’s be next on the hit list?

A brick-and-mortar gambler has fallen afoul of the Australian taxman after claiming he had a surefire ‘system’ for winning at baccarat. The unidentified punter had been slapped with a $1.15m back tax bill based on unexplained deposits to his bank account. The gambler, who emigrated from Vietnam in 1991, told an Administrative Appeals Tribunal that he and a friend had developed a system for winning 95 out of every 100 hands of baccarat. The pair put their system to use at gambling joints in Vietnam and Cambodia, where they claimed to have won more than $4m over a six-month period.

The man subsequently shifted his action to Sydney’s The Star casino, where his ‘system’ didn’t work nearly as well, at least, not initially. The casino’s records showed the man posting net losses of $25k, $43k and $168k in the years 2005, 2006 and 2007. The gambler’s luck changed dramatically in 2008, when he posted a net profit of $464k on turnover of $2.4m, good enough to earn him The Star’s ‘black’ designation, its highest membership honor.

Impressive as his 2008 results may be, it didn’t account for the majority of the sums on his bank deposit slips, leaving the Australian Tax Office on firm footing to demand their due. The Daily Telegraph quoted Tribunal deputy president Stephen Frost dipping deep into his bag of rhetoric to rubbish the gambler’s “inherently improbable” claim of a surefire system. “It seems to me that one needs more than mathematical science to turn the sow’s ear of complete randomness into the silk purse of virtual certainty.” Touché.


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