UK bookmakers Ladbrokes Coral have prevailed in their fight with a punter who claimed Coral had unfairly refused to honor a £250k winning wager on Glasgow Rangers’ relegation.
In September 2011, punter Albert Kinloch (pictured) walked into a Coral betting shop and placed a £100 wager at 2,500:1 odds that Rangers would be relegated at the conclusion of the Scottish Premier League season. Five months later, the high-performing but financially struggling team was forced into administration and required to play the following season in the Scottish Football League’s Third Division after re-emerging under new management.
Kinloch believed he was owed £250k while Coral claimed Rangers hadn’t really been relegated, at least, not in the way Coral intended when it posted the team’s relegation odds. Both sides lawyered up and made arguments in the Court of Session in Edinburgh in January.
On Wednesday, Judge Lord Bannatyne addressed the parties’ different definitions of ‘relegate’ by saying that “the reasonable man is not only directed but driven to the rules of a particular sports when placing a bet in a sporting context. The natural and ordinary meaning of a sporting term is the definition of that term within the rules of the sport.”
As a result, Bannatyne told the parties he was “satisfied that what did not happen was that the SPL moved or demoted Rangers to a lower division.” Bannatyne said Rangers ended up out of the SPL “by the entry into a contract which allowed them to join the SFL in the third division.”
Bannatyne said Coral’s “sound construction” of the wager on offer made the most sense to the court. Bannatyne was satisfied that the astronomical odds of the wager “to a reasonable person placing a bet as well as the reasonable bookmaker would clearly indicate that relegation meant what is contended for by the defenders, that is, the highly unlikely event.”
The 72-year-old Kinloch, a former bookmaker, admitted during January’s hearings that he wasn’t a “mug punter” and that he understood SPL and SFL rules. Kinloch also copped to having read about Rangers’ financial difficulties before placing his wager.
But Kinloch argued that Coral hadn’t attempted to negotiate different terms when he placed the bet and pointed out that Coral’s own website had later referred to Rangers’ “relegation to the bottom tier of Scottish football.” Coral countered that the article in question was written by a freelancer and didn’t serve as a reflection of company wagering policies.