June 23, 2017

Football Association ends links with all betting firms after review

The Football Association will no longer have a betting partner after terminating a contract with Ladbrokes worth around £4m a year following a string of high-profile gambling controversies in the sport.

The decision follows a three-month review by the governing body into how appropriate such a deal was when the FA is noticeably becoming stricter in enforcing its ban on those connected with the game gambling on football.

It also comes after Joey Barton, serving an 18-month ban for gambling offences, accused the FA of hypocrisy over the deal. It had three years of a four-year contract to run. The chief executive, Martin Glenn, said: “We would like to thank Ladbrokes for both being a valued partner over the last year and for their professionalism and understanding about our change of policy around gambling.”

The EFL said the FA decision had no bearing on its own partnership with Sky Bet, which is in its fifth year. A spokesman said: “The EFL is of the firm belief that there is no conflict in having a commercial relationship with the gaming industry, as it is the FA who have the ultimate responsibility of enforcing any breach of the existing betting rules that all those who participate in our competitions have to adhere to.”

The FA chairman, Greg Clarke, has led the move to put space between the governing body and bookmakers, although he insisted the review was not linked to the Barton case. The player, who was banned in April having placed 1,260 bets on matches between 2006 and 2013, claimed this amounted to “hush money” and that it might prevent the ruling body from discovering match-fixing.

He told The Sunday Times last week: “What are the FA going to do, march into Ladbrokes and say: ‘Show us everyone who’s had a bet on this game?’ Ladbrokes are going to say: ‘Eff off, we pay you £10m a year [sic], keep your mouth shut.’ Do the FA not understand that’s hush money? Because if they don’t do it to Ladbrokes, they can’t do it to Betfair, Paddy Power, William Hill.

“They’ve given me such a harsh sentence because they want to maintain to the world, to the people who buy TV rights, that this is a very high-integrity game here. People who work for betting companies have told me that’s the key issue. The FA have no actual interest in [tackling] betting. And they can’t solve the problem, especially when they’ve got Ladbrokes as a partner. Because the players are going: ‘I’m not doing anything wrong.’”

The EFL said it would not be reconsidering its title sponsorship with SkyBet in light of the FA’s decision, arguing there was no conflict of interest.

“The EFL (as a competition organiser) is of the firm belief that there is no conflict in having a commercial relationship with the gaming industry, as it is the FA who have the ultimate responsibility of enforcing any breach of the existing betting rules that all those who participate in our competitions have to adhere to,” said a spokesman.

June 07, 2017

Pagcor to limit Philippine online gaming licenses to 50

The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) said this week it is planning to initially trim the number of online gaming operators in the country to a maximum of 50. This measure is to prevent an oversupply of players in the industry.

Philippines flagJose Tria Jr., assistant vice president of Pagcor’s Offshore Gaming Licensing Department, said the regulator is eyeing to impose a moratorium to limit the number of Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGO) until it is sure that the increase in players is not overtaking the demand. “We need to evaluate first if the industry is already oversaturated,” Tria told in an interview.

However, the Pagcor official clarified that such moratorium could be lifted anytime. “It depends on the evaluation. The saturation of the market can be seen in the audit system. If the income of each operator goes down from the previously reported, this means there are too much operators,” Tria added.

Tria said an oversaturation means that additional operators do not bring in additional income to the industry. “They are just dividing between themselves [the income] instead of increasing it. That means it’s already saturated,” he said.

Pagcor has so far issued 42 licenses to offshore operators to date. Pending applications, meanwhile, have gone down to 12 from the initial list of 44, Tria said. “After we released the list, we wrote a letter to the pending applicants. A lot of them did not pursue their application.”

Should the moratorium be imposed, only eight new operators stand to get their license application approved.

May 16, 2017

Japanese tennis player banned for life over match-fixing charge

Japanese tennis player Junn Mitsuhashi has been banned for life for match-fixing and gambling offences.

The 25-year-old, who reached a career high of 295 in the world in 2009, has also been fined $50,000 (£39,000/€45,000) by the Tennis Integrity Unit (TIU).

He has been found guilty of making corrupt approaches to other players, betting on tennis matches and refusing to cooperate with the TIU investigation.

In November 2015, he asked Joshua Chetty, a player he had previously coached, to approach another player during an International Tennis Federation (ITF) Futures F1 tournament in Stellenbosch in South Africa.

The player was offered $2,000 (£1,500/€1,800) to under-perform in a singles match and $600 (£465/€543) for a doubles match, the TIU said.

South Africa's Chetty was himself banned for life in September.

Mitsuhashi then made an approach to another player in December 2015, according to the TIU.

This took place at an ITF Futures F4 tournament in Lagos in Nigeria, with the player asked to fix certain aspects of a match.

The Japanese player, who was ranked 1,997 in the world at the end of 2015, was also found to have bet on 76 tennis matches.

"In spite of repeated requests to engage with the TIU, the player refused to respond or co-operate with enquiries into the allegations against him," a TIU statement said.

"Failing to cooperate is an offence in its own right."

Mitsuhashi will not be allowed to play in any tournaments organised by the governing bodies of the sport or even attend the venues.

His case was considered by independent anti-corruption hearing officer Ian Mill QC, who imposed the lifetime ban and fine.

Tennis has faced significant match-fixing problems, particularly at levels where prize money is low.

It was the sport involved in 45 per cent of reported cases of suspicious betting during the first quarter of 2017, according to the European Sport Security Association.

In March, ITF President David Haggerty announced plans for tours with a limit of 750 male and 750 female players.

It is thought that around 14,000 are currently competing among the full-time ranks, with nearly half of these failing to win any prize money.

This, it is thought, can cause some players to be tempted by corruption.

May 11, 2017

New York Senate Finance Committee passes online gaming bill

On Tuesday, the state Senate Finance Committee approved legislation that would make New York the fourth and most populous US state to welcome legal and regulated online poker. Approved by a vote of 27-9, the bill S3898 now goes to the entire Senate, where a majority vote would send it to the desk of Gov. Andrew Cuomo for his signature.

If it reaches the governor’s desk, there will be a 10-day period where it may be signed into law or vetoed.

Sponsored by Senator John Bonacic, the bill seeks to legalise online poker as a game of skill, or specifically hold’em and omaha, which are deemed by the senator, apparently, to be the most skillful variants. That will be the key point for debate the take place in the Senate.

The Empire State’s long-running efforts to legalise internet poker had first moved forward last february after the legislation passed the Senate Gaming Committee by a unanimous 11-0 vote.

The bill originally introduced in late January would authorise the New York State Gaming Commission to hand out online poker licenses at the cost of $10m per license. Under the bill, poker would be classified as a game of skill, which differs from the provision within the state constitution that prevents internet gaming. The state will also be able to enter interstate compacts in order to increase player pools and liquidity.

The bill would amend the Racing, Pari-Mutuel Wagering and Breeding Law to permit certain interactive poker games, specifically Texas Hold’em and Omaha Hold’em. It would change the definition of poker to constitute a game where the outcome is determined by skill rather than luck, and would regulated without this being considered gaming expansion.

May 08, 2017

Poker Player to eat $1k worth of McDonalds food in 36 hours

A professional poker player has taken up a rather unusual challenge of attempting to eat $1,000 worth of McDonald’s food in 36-hours with wagers topping $200k.

I once took on the Fatty Arbuckle Challenge and failed. My ex-wife came back from the toilet and found pieces of steak in the vase holding the fake flowers, both condiments, and squeezed in between pages of the menu.

Poker Player to eat $1k worth of McDonalds food in 36 hours. My father-in-law at the time also took the challenge. You had to eat a CAFO full of chicken wings, a 28 oz steak with all the trimmings, and a two-pint ice cream sundae.

The trick, it seems, was in the Sundae. My father-in-law used his lighter to melt it and then drank the lot.

But not even my former father-in-law would be able to eat $1,000 worth of McDonald’s in 36-hours, but professional poker player Mike Noori is ready to give it a shot.

The Word Poker Tour (WPT) Executive Tour Director, Matt Savage, is the man behind the idea and here are the stipulations:

– Only $200 can be spent on salads.
– $300 has to be spent on hot food items ($50 of which must be burgers)
– Drinks don’t count
– Cannot remove any items from his orders
– Can add additional foodstuffs to requested items (extra bacon, etc.)
– Must eat everything that comes with the order (except the Happy Meal toy)
– He must eat the food in its original state, no blender
– Puking is ok as long as he doesn’t force the puke or puke repeatedly
– No inflated prices (I.e. Eating in McDonald’s in an airport)

According to the word on social media, there is over $200k in bets already booked, with Noori admitting on Twitter that he only has a small piece of his action.

Noori has already indicated that he will begin the bet by eating $500 worth of apple slices, but even if he goes down that particular orchard, this still ranks as one of the more difficult prop bets to be accepted on the open market (take not Bill Perkins).

One man who knows what he is talking about when it comes to food is Jimmy Fricke, and he believes the bet is impossible.

What Happens if You Consume Over 66k Calories in 36 Hours?

You won’t be surprised to hear that our great God Google didn’t have an answer to that question. And when I asked Alexa she said Sorry I don’t know that one. But I do know what would happen if you ate 6,000 calories per day for seven days straight so you can get some picture.

According to Men’s Health magazine, six healthy guys did eat 6,000 calories for seven days straight while staying in a hospital bed under the name of medical research. The men gained on average 8 pounds per person. They developed insulin resistance, liver complications and extreme oxidative stress.

And who can forget Morgan Spurlock’s SuperSize Me documentary? Spurlock only ate McDonald’s food for 30 days straight in a bid to prove that although the fast food chain won a libel case against a couple of obese girls who laid the blame for the extra poundage on old Ronald, the fast food franchise was still responsible for causing physical harm.

Spurlock ate 5,000 calories per day, gained 11 kilogrammes in weight (a 13% body mass increase), saw his cholesterol shoot up to 230 mg/dL, and lost his libido. It took Spurlock 14-months to shed the extra weight after being placed on a strict vegan lifestyle.

The average healthy males consume on average 2,500 calories per day.

If Noori loses the bet and is still alive, he will have to foot the $1,000 food bill. If he wins, then he has to contribute $500 towards his feast.

My father-in-law?

He won a t-shirt.

May 06, 2017

Chinese fixing syndicate and a real new threat to football as UEFA send report to Athlone Town

Fears are growing that Chinese criminals have taken match-fixing to new levels by buying stakes in European clubs and then organizing corruption of these teams’ fixtures.

A stake in Athlone Town, a club under investigation over an allegedly fixed match in the League of Ireland last weekend, is believed to have been sold to a party ultimately funded by a Beijing-based fixing syndicate.

The same group, control by an individual whose name is known to this newspaper, is understood to have taken interests in lower-league clubs in Portugal, Latvia and Romania where fixing has also been suspected.

Athlone are under investigation by the Irish police, the Irish FA and European football’s governing body UEFA over their 3-1 defeat to Longford Town last weekend.

A confidential UEFA report sent to Athlone on Friday says: ‘There is clear and overwhelming betting evidence that the course or result of this match was unduly influenced with a view to gaining corrupt betting profits.’

Sources say gamblers with inside knowledge profited by around £500,000 from bets placed in the unregulated Asian markets on at least two goals being scored in the first half (Longford were winning 2-0 at half-time), and on four of more goals being scored in the game. Longford went 3-1 ahead in the 87th minute.

Sources say the stake in the Irish club bought by the Chinese firm was lower in value (around £425,000) than estimated betting profits from that one game alone. Athlone have received recent investment but officials have declined to say how much or where from. It is not known if the cash was paid directly from China or via intermediary organisations.

Athlone did not respond to calls or emails seeking comment from the MoS but a club statement said they were ‘absolutely shocked’ by fixing allegations.

Chinese firms have bought interests around 20 clubs across Europe in recent years, almost all of them with no hint of controversy, let alone scandal. But governing bodies will now be on red alert over deals, not least for relatively large sums in the lower leagues. ‘If an investment offer for a “lesser” team seems too good to be true, it probably is,’ says one investigator.

Two other Athlone matches this season caused alarm among market watchers, although it is not known if UEFA are aware of this. One was against UC Dublin on 8 April, which Athlone lost 4-1. Sources from both the ‘integrity’ side of the football industry and in the betting underworld say huge sums were won in that match by bets place on at least five goals being scored in the fixture. UC Dublin’s fourth goal - the fifth in the game - was scored in the 89th minute.

The Irish police will begin an official investigation on Monday.

Athlone have seen a spate of comings and goings among the playing and coaching staff since the mystery investment in the club.

Among the recent arrivals was Latvian goalkeeper Igor Labuts, who has played for at least two other teams where money is believed to have been injected by the Beijing firm - and have been investigated for fixing. He has admitted to being approached in the past by fixers and thwarted their advances, and says he has been shocked by fixing allegations against his clubs.

‘I know that I am clean but it’s unpleasant and my reputation has been damaged,’ he said.

A UEFA spokesman said: ‘UEFA is completely committed to eradicating match-fixing, a disease that attacks football’s very core.’

Sources say UEFA have investigated around 200 matches per season over the last three years in leagues across the 55 nations in their region over suspicious betting patterns and fixing concerns.

Over the past seven years, UEFA has been involved in the successful prosecution of 14 match-fixing cases across the Continent where the guilty parties were banned for between a year and life.

While the ratio of allegations to prosecutions is hugely disproportionate, it is notoriously difficult to prove fixing beyond any doubt. Typically a successful case will involve tracing a money trail on bets and then linking that unequivocally to corrupt players or officials.

April 27, 2017

Joey Barton banned for 18 months by FA and says it effectively ends his career

The tumultuous career of Joey Barton looks finally to have come to an end after the controversial footballer was banned from the game for 18 months on betting charges.

Barton, who is registered as a player with Burnley in the Premier League, accepted Football Association charges that accused him of having placed 1,260 bets on football matches between 2006 and 2013. This figure included at least five matches in which he was a player. Professional footballers are banned from making any bets on their own sport.

Despite having admitted to the offences Barton, 34, plans to appeal against the length of his suspension and claims that there was nothing “untoward or suspicious” about his behaviour.

In a lengthy statement posted on his website Barton said: “The decision effectively forces me into an early retirement from playing football. To be clear from the outset here this is not match fixing and at no point in any of this is my integrity in question.

Analysis Joey Barton: a man whose football talent rarely took centre stage
Banned for 18 months for gambling, the 34-year-old’s playing career looks all but over – yet he was never a stranger to controversy and discord
Read more
“Having consulted with my friends and lawyers, I have decided I will be appealing against the length of the ban. I hope that I shall be afforded a fair hearing by an independent appeal panel. If I am, we are confident that the sanction will be reduced to a fair one that both reflects the offences as well as the mitigating factors and the fact that there was nothing untoward or suspicious about the bets I made.”

Barton returned to the Premier League only in January after five years’ absence. His career has taken in spells at six clubs including Manchester City and Glasgow Rangers and he also earned a solitary cap for England during the reign of Steve McClaren. But the Merseyside-born midfielder will be remembered as much for his misdemeanours as for his performances. In December 2004 he was fined six weeks’ wages for stubbing a lit cigar in the eye of a young team-mate during Manchester City’s Christmas party. In May 2007 he was suspended by the same club after a training-ground altercation which later led to assault charges for which he received a four-month suspended jail sentence. Later that year he was arrested in Liverpool city centre after a late-night incident and was charged with common assault and affray, and in May 2008 was jailed for six months. In May 2012 Barton was banned for 12 matches for violent conduct when playing for Queens Park Rangers.

“Throughout my career I am someone who has made mistakes and owned up to those mistakes and tried to learn from them,” Barton said in his statement. “I intend to do that here. I accept that this is one more mess I got into because of my own behaviour. This episode has brought home to me that, just as I had to face up to the need to get help to deal with alcohol abuse, and with anger, so now I need to get help for my issues with gambling, and I will do so.

“As for the scale of my football betting, since 2004, on a Betfair account held in my own name, registered at my home address and verified by my own passport, with full transparency, I have placed over 15,000 bets across a whole range of sports. Just over 1,200 were placed on football and subject to the charges against me. The average bet was just over £150, many were for only a few pounds.

“Raised at the hearing was that between 2004 and 2011 I placed a handful of bets on my own team to lose matches. I accept of course that this is against the rules, for the obvious reason that a player with an additional financial stake in the game might seek to change the course of it for his own personal gain. However I’d like to offer some context.

“First, in every game I have played, I have given everything. I’m confident that anyone who has ever seen me play, or played with or against me, will confirm that to be the case. I am more aware than anyone that I have character issues that I struggle with, and my addictive personality is one of them, but I am a devoted and dedicated professional who has always given my all on the pitch.”

Barton’s ban comes at a time when football has never been more closely intertwined with the gambling industry. Eleven of the 20 current Premier League sides wear the logos of betting companies on their shirts, while the Football League itself is sponsored by a gambling company. The growth in online or ‘remote’ gambling has meant that not just every match but most of the elements within them can now be gambled upon. Recent estimates at the amount of gambling losses accrued in the UK put the total at around £300 per person per year.

Marc Etches, who is the chief executive of GambleAware, the industry-funded body dedicated to the reduction of gambling harm, said of Barton’s statement: “Admitting you have a gambling problem is an essential first step towards fixing it. We welcome Joey’s statement and hope his openness will be seen as an example others feel they can follow. You don’t need to be a professional footballer to find help for what is a recognised mental health condition.”

Thirty ‘most pertinent bets’

At the end of his lengthy statement, Barton listed the 30 “most pertinent bets as determined by the FA”, laid while he was playing for Manchester City, Newcastle United and Queens Park Rangers:

Manchester City v Fulham (28 April 2006) Laid George Samaras not to score first goal £5 (Bet won – £10)*

Manchester City v Fulham (28 April 2006) Backed Joey Barton to score first goal £3 (Bet lost)*

Manchester City v Fulham (28 April 2006) Backed Manchester City to win £600 (Bet lost)*

Newcastle v Tottenham (24 September 2008) Newcastle to win £25 (Bet lost)

Newcastle v Sunderland (1 February 2009) Newcastle to win £5 (Bet lost)

Newcastle v Sunderland (1 February 2009) Newcastle to win 2-1 £2 (Bet lost)

Hull v Newcastle (14 March 2009) Newcastle to win £5 (Bet lost)

Hull v Newcastle (14 March 2009) Newcastle to win (as part of a bet involving other matches) £5 (Bet lost)

Forest v Newcastle (17 October 2009) Newcastle to win £22 (Bet lost)

Newcastle v Derby (28 December 2009) Newcastle to win (as part of a bet involving other matches) £50 (Bet lost)

Stevenage v Newcastle (8 January 2011) Newcastle to win £497.50 (Bet lost)*

Stevenage v Newcastle (8 January 2011) Newcastle to lead at HT and FT £250 (Bet lost)*

QPR v Rochdale (23 August 2011) QPR to win £25 (Bet lost)

QPR v Leeds United (1 March 2014) QPR to win as part of multiple bet £25 (Bet lost)


QPR v Leeds United (1 March 2014) QPR to win £250 (Bet lost) West Ham v Manchester City (15 April 2006) West Ham to win (Bet won – returns £53.60)

Newcastle v PSV (6 August 2008) Draw at HT and PSV lead at FT £30 (Bet lost)

Newcastle v PSV (6 August 2008) PSV to lead at HT and FT £5.65 (Bet lost)

Newcastle v PSV (6 August 2008) PSV to lead at HT and FT £24.35 (Bet lost)

Newcastle v PSV (6 August 2008) PSV to win £40 (Bet lost)

Newcastle v PSV (6 August 2008) PSV to win 1-0 £10 (Bet lost)

Newcastle v PSV (6 August 2008) PSV to win 2-0 £10 (Bet lost)

Newcastle v PSV (6 August 2008) PSV to win 3-0 £10 (Bet lost)

Newcastle v PSV (6 August 2008) PSV to win £81.67 (Bet lost)

Newcastle v PSV (6 August 2008) PSV to win £158.33 (Bet lost)

Manchester United v Newcastle (17 August 2008) Man Utd to win £300 (Bet lost)

Chelsea v Newcastle (22 November 2008) Chelsea to win £48 (Bet lost)

Newcastle v Chelsea (28 November 2010) Chelsea to win £500 (Bet lost)

Newcastle v Chelsea (28 November 2010) Chelsea to win (as part of multiple bet which includes singles and doubles) £350 (Bet lost on Newcastle but other part of bet paid as a win – returns £435)

Newcastle Reserves v Arsenal Reserves (9 March 2011) Arsenal to win £100 (Bet lost)

* Denotes matches in which Barton played.

April 25, 2017

Malta plans national betting exchange for operators to hedge

Malta’s gambling regulators are planning big changes to maintain the country’s role as a desirable hub for online gambling operators, including a national sports betting exchange to allow operators to hedge their bets.

Last Thursday, Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) chairman Joseph Cuschieri delivered a speech to attendees at a conference organized by Malta’s financial affairs parliamentary committee at which he revealed the MGA’s plans to leverage Malta’s remote gaming advantage.

Cuschieri started by underscoring the importance of Malta’s gaming industry to the overall economy. Gaming contributed €56.3m in direct taxes to the government’s 2016 budget, while gaming-related activity brought the total contribution to around €120m. Around 3k Maltese nationals currently earn their livelihood via the local gaming industry.

But Cuschieri warned that the MGA needed to be proactive “to avert the threats and reap opportunities at a global level.” The MGA has therefore developed a strategy to “future proof” the industry based around three main tenets.

The first of these tenets is a more focused approach to developing B2B activities, which tend to be less vulnerable to financial crime, regulatory and other external risks. The second tenet is enhanced efficiency of regulatory processes, including removing unneeded bureaucracy, while the third tenet involves ensuring the necessary flexibility to adapt to technological development and market demands.

On that last point, Cuschieri said the MGA was studying new game types such as eSports skins gambling, as well as virtual reality products. The MGA is also setting up “a national betting exchange so that we can create a structure where bets can be hedged.”

This exchange would reportedly not be restricted to MGA-licensed operators, but a variety of other matters such as commission rates remain very large question marks and there’s no timeline for implementation of this plan.

Cuschieri also said that the MGA is conducting “in-depth studies of the role which crypto-currencies can play within the Maltese regulatory regime.” The MGA hopes to unveil its plan to introduce “virtual currencies in a gaming context” later this year.

As recently as last August, Cuschieri was saying the MGA had received “very few requests” from online licensees regarding Bitcoin use but the MGA was nonetheless looking to develop a “national approach” to the use of crypto-currencies.

On that note, Malta’s Prime Minister Joseph Muscat announced last week that his cabinet had approved the first draft of a national strategy to promote the blockchain technology that underpins Bitcoin. Muscat said the strategy was “not just about Bitcoin,” as he wanted to see blockchain technology employed in Malta’s lands and national health registries.

Muscat said he recognized that other European regulators may be wary of the new technology “but the fact is that it’s coming. We must be on the frontline in embracing this crucial innovation … We must be the ones that others copy.”

April 24, 2017

Bookmaker Bet365 admits mistake in wrangle over £54,000 account

The leading internet bookmaker Bet365, which has been refusing to allow one of its customers to withdraw a £54,000 balance for the last 12 months, admitted on Friday that it had acted in error when it warned the punter involved that it could levy a 5% “administration fee” on the account every 28 days until “the balance reaches zero”, under the firm’s policy on so-called “dormant” accounts.

The customer involved in the case was also informed by email that she could avoid a charge of about £2,700 on or around 14 May by logging into the account and withdrawing the balance – a course of action which Bet365 still refuses to allow.

The dispute between Bet365 and the customer dates back to April last year, when her account and the £54,000 balance were frozen by the bookmaker after a series of successful bets on horse racing. The customer was also informed that in future she would be restricted to a maximum bet of £1.

She then requested a transfer of her balance back to her debit card, without success. Several months later, following a series of requests for the transfer of the £54,000 balance, she lodged a complaint with the Independent Betting Adjudication Service (IBAS), which has been considering the case since November and is expected to deliver a ruling within a month.

Exactly a year after the account was frozen, it triggered Bet365’s procedures for dormant accounts, and the customer received an automatically generated email with the subject line “Your Account Balance”. This informed her that in accordance with the company’s terms and conditions, an “ongoing administration fee” of 5% would now be levied on the balance every 28 days. The email added: “To avoid this fee simply log back into your account and withdraw your full balance.”

When contacted for comment, Bet365 said in a statement issued by its legal department that the company “strongly refutes the customer’s allegations and considers them unfounded”, adding that it will abide by the decision of IBAS in the case when it issues its ruling.

Bet365 also sent an email to the customer involved on Friday, in which a member of the company’s customer services team confirmed that its email regarding possible charges on the account had been “submitted in error”. The email added that “while we are still awaiting for you to sign and return the letter which we have submitted to you, your account will not be subject to any form of administration fee”.

The “letter” referred to in the email is understood to be a request for the customer to agree to new terms and conditions on the account, which the customer is refusing to sign while her £54,000, including winnings from bets placed and accepted under earlier terms, remains frozen.

IBAS’s long-delayed ruling on the case will be awaited with considerable interest, not just by the parties directly concerned but also by the gambling industry as a whole. It is unusual for IBAS to agree to adjudicate in a case where there is no substantial dispute about the placing of the bets involved or the results of the races concerned. Should IBAS find in favour of the punter, it would be seen as a landmark decision by campaigners for increased protection for customers from potentially unfair terms and conditions imposed by gambling operators.

Bet365’s “error” in activating its dormant account procedures also highlights a practice that is commonplace across the industry. Individual companies are allowed to impose such rules as they see fit when accounts become dormant, and the administration fees charged on dormant accounts, and the amount of time that an account must be unused before it is declared dormant, vary widely from one bookmaker to another.

“The fee on this balance would have been about £2,700 for the first month,” Paul Fairhead, who campaigns on issues related to fairness for punters via the Twitter account @BoycottBetFred, said on Friday. “Bet365 have acknowledged an error in this case but it would be almost impossible to justify taking that kind of figure from someone’s account and there surely has to be a maximum fee.

“This is an error as the account is subject to an IBAS investigation, but in the case of someone who is deceased, for example, contact details for that customer may not extend to next of kin and the executors of wills and so on. Presumably a gambling firm then has licence to retain that money after a number of months.”

April 20, 2017

Australia mulls “siren to siren” sports betting TV ad ban

Australian betting operators are potentially facing a “siren to siren” ban on advertising during televised live sporting matches, according to local media reports.

On Wednesday, The Australian reported that Communications Minister Mitch Fifield would present a proposal to cabinet on Tuesday that would prohibit television networks from airing betting ads at any time during a live sports contest. Cabinet is expected to approve the proposal.

A similar prohibition was part of a group of gambling initiatives proposed by Independent Sen. Nick Xenophon but these were rejected by a Senate committee last month on the grounds that the federal government had things under control.

Australian free-to-air broadcasters will reportedly be offered reductions in license fees to help offset the expected loss of advertising revenue, but it’s unknown whether subscription TV services will be offered similar incentives to win their support.

Australia’s sporting codes may prove a harder sell. ABC reported that key execs from the Australian Football League and the National Rugby League met with Fifield last week to argue that further advertising restrictions would drastically reduce the value of their media rights deals with betting operators. Cricket Australia is reportedly also lobbying against further curbs.

Malcolm Speed, exec director of the Coalition of Major Professional Participation Sports, told The Australian that media rights were “the sports’ greatest asset.” Speed noted that broadcasters had previously agreed to ban the promotion of live odds during sports broadcasts and further restrictions “will inevitably result in lowering investment in community and participation programs, and grassroots development.”

An unidentified source at a major sports body pointed out that Fifield’s proposed ban “also has the potential to rob sports of product fees,” i.e. the commissions paid by Australian betting operators for taking wagers on individual sports. This source said Fifield’s plan “will result in no reduction in gambling, but a reduction in taxation to state and federal governments.”

Responsible Wagering Australia (RWA), a trade body representing many of the country’s betting operators, has supported a reduction in betting advertising on television, apparently believing that it’s better to support moderate curbs in the hope of avoiding more punitive measures. It’s unclear whether the RWA will support Fifield’s blanket live sports ban.