Tale of Two Punters: Legal Disputes with Online Books BetVictor, NetBet
It’s one of the sports bettor’s biggest fears: Having something go awry in the process of placing a major bet, resulting either in a large unexpected loss or a supposed win that ends up not being honored. Such circumstances are very rare — whether betting online or at a physical betting shoppe — yet they do happen. And when they occur, and when a legal mess ensues, the whole industry gets a black eye.
Sometimes it’s not deserved, and then again, sometimes it is. Read on.
Two such tales of punters’ woe have found their way into the headlines in very recent days. The two stories are starkly different from each other, yet both represent that wagering outlier that no sports-betting enthusiast ever wants to encounter.
Tale the first in this dually litigious saga comes from Scotland, where football fan Gordon Shearer has again come out on the losing end of his continuing lawsuits against Gibraltar-based BetVictor. Shearer first sued the company after failing to be paid on what he thought was a winning bet on a Celtic-Kilmarnock Scottish Premier League match back on Christmas Eve of 2011.
Or at least Shearer continues to allege that he won the bet, but the circumstances in the case just don’t add up. According to BetVictor’s records, Shearer wagered a whopping £92,476 on Celtic to win the second half of a match in which Celtic already led at halftime, 1-0. The second half of that match went 1-1 (Celtic won the match 2-1), so according to BetVictor, Shearer placed a losing bet.
Shearer, in his ongoing lawsuits, has alleged that the bet was for the entire match, which BetVictor disputed. The Gibraltar Gambling Commission and the Independent Betting Adjudication Service (IBAS) both sided with BetVictor, as Shearer’s dispute gathered steam. And in the latest chapter of the tale, a Scottish court has dismissed the suit Shearer filed there against BetVictor, for lack of jurisdiction.
Judge Lord Boyd of Duncansby, presiding over the case in Scotland’s Court of Session, wrote, “I have concluded that because the second respondent is not amenable to the jurisdiction of the Scottish courts that there are no real prospects of success.
But before we move on, here are the kickers, which really complicate the tale. The bet Shearer allegedly won carried very short odds — 1:18 on Celtic winning the second half. Thus, according to that complaint, Shearer’s £92,476 wager would have returned only £5,137.56. Try as I might, I can’t imagine any circumstance where I’d pick an already-ahead team to win the second half of a league match as well, particularly at such short odds.
The story simply does not add up, and recent reports on Shearer’s ongoing dispute shed little additional light on how the bet came to be. The most likely explanation is that Shearer either misunderstood the wager as presented by BetVictor or BetVictor itself had some sort of odds error in its system, perhaps conflating second-half and full-match wagers. For instance, I could understand 1:18 if it was for Celtic not to lose the entire match, once ahead at the half. Yet that’s not what has been alleged, according to the ongoing reports.
However, if you think a £92,476 headache is a bad day, you’re barely in the league of South Africa’s Darren Ward, who thought he’d experienced a life-changing day of betting on the ponies, only to find the site he wagered on, South African brand NetBet (affiliated with SportingBet and GVC Holdings, Inc.), trying to not pay most of a major winning wager due to the fine print.
Back on Halloween of 2014, Ward place a couple of hundred-rand accumulator bets on an eight-race ticket combining races at two different Durban-area tracks. And in one of those stunning twists of fate, Ward hit all eight winners on one of his tickets for a supposed payday of 4,840,000 rand — about £275,000.
Except that NetBet refused to pay, citing language buried in its online registration process that declared that the most any single winning wager could receive was one million rand, or roughly £60,000.
Ward has filed suit, looking to receive the full value of the odds which were printed on the online wager slip he received, while NetBet has stood firm by its decision to pay only the one million rand, citing that by clicking the terms-of-registration box during the signup process, Ward accepted that limitation.
Stating this purely as personal opinion, this is utter bullshit, and if there’s justice in the world, Ward will prevail and win his full payday. My argument here is in agreement with that of Ward and his counsel: Once Ward received a wager acknowledgement stating a potential win of the 4.84 million rand, NetBet thus annulled its own payout limitations.
And let’s be honest about it: Ward already paid for those full odds when he chose the horses he did, at the odds each individual horse carried in its respective race. The only thing that NetBet’s arbitrary winning-wager limit is designed to do is to save the company from having to pay out a big payday.
So boo on NetBet, SportingBet and GVC for trying to turn their customers into their insurance carriers, trying to protect themselves from the big payout. That’s not how it’s supposed to work, folks.
- Darren Ward
- Harry Shearer
- south africa
- sports betting