UK bookmakers Coral are being forced to defend their refusal to pay out a Scottish punter’s winning futures bet on Glasgow Rangers FC being forced to exit the country’s top football division.
In September 2011, former bookie Albert Kinloch (pictured) popped into a Coral betting shop in Glasgow and placed a £100 wager at 2500:1 odds that Rangers would be relegated. At the time, Rangers were sitting in second place in the Scottish Premier League, and Kinloch said the betting operator accepted his wager after the cashier confirmed with Coral’s head office.
Five months later, the Scottish club was forced into administration after running up tax bills it couldn’t pay. The club underwent an ownership change and a dramatically altered player lineup and was forced to play the following season in the Scottish Third Division.
Kinloch believed he was due for a £250k payday but Coral claimed Rangers hadn’t really been relegated, at least, not as Coral defined relegation. Kinloch lawyered up and the matter headed to the Court of Session in Edinburgh this week.
A key part of Kinloch’s case hinges on a sports article that appeared on Coral’s website which referenced “Rangers’ relegation to the bottom tier of Scottish football.” Coral’s PR Director Simon Clare told the Court that the article was “written by a freelance journalist” and that the articles that appear on Coral’s website “don’t form part of our company policy.”
Scottish Bookmakers Association president John Fox sided with Kinloch, telling the Court that his understanding of relegation was that “you drop down.” Fox believes Coral “should have stipulated when the bet was placed that relegation means by finishing with the lowest points and they didn’t.” Fox opined that ‘if you have taken a bet, you have to honor it.”
Under questioning by Kinloch’s attorney, Clare was forced to conceded that Coral’s terms & conditions didn’t include a specific definition of ‘relegation.’
Another Coral witness, Nottingham Trent University Prof. Vaughan Williams, agreed that a report he prepared for Coral re the Kinloch case said Rangers weren’t relegated “in any real sense of the word” but the report also noted that the bookie had “no set definition” of the word.
Coral also sent Kinloch a letter claiming that the new Rangers were “not the same as the old Rangers,” but Kinloch noted in Court that Coral continued to refer to Rangers as ‘Old Firm’ on bookie forms. Fox also took issue with Coral’s distinction between ‘old’ Rangers and ‘new’ Rangers, saying “the gambling industry in the country regards Rangers as the same club prior to 2012.”
In an interesting exchange, Clare told the Court that “2500:1 odds wouldn’t have been offered if there was a chance of the event happening.” Asked what odds of that size mean to the betting industry, Williams said it meant “effectively, it’s not going to happen.”
For the record, Kinloch’s odds were only half the 5000:1 offer that at least one UK bookie was offering on Leicester City winning the English Premier League last season, which resulted in the UK betting industry’s single biggest payout to punters. The Court will hear its final testimony in this case on Thursday.