BETFAIR ONLINE SCANDAL BREWING
Was this promotion bungled, and did Betfair handle it the right way?
Internet message boards have been lighting up since the weekend with furious debate on what appears to have been a bungled online promotion by Betfair and the manner in which this generally reputable group has handled the affair.
Last Saturday Betfair Casino offered an unlimited happy hour bonus with a play through of only 10x, according to player reports. However, it is alleged that when Betfair realised the over-generous nature of the promotion it deployed rather draconian measures to save itself from excessive losses.
When we went to press Betfair had not issued an official statement on the allegations, but players reported receiving the following e-mail from the betting company:
"We recently ran a Casino promotion called Casino Happy Hour in which you participated. The promotion was live during the weekend of 13 and 14 November 2010.
"During and after the promotion, we suspended certain customers’ Casino accounts after it was alerted to some irregular and unusual gaming and depositing activity. Your account was one of those suspended.
"Certain customers attempted to profit from the promotion through adopting gaming patterns and activity in contravention of Betfair Casino’s Standard Terms and Conditions. As a result, we have withheld both bonus funds and winnings derived from such activity on those customers’ accounts, of which yours is one.
"We have taken steps to make sure all of your actual deposits have remained in your account, and your account will be reopened within 48 hours. You are of course then free to continue to use your deposited funds to play in the casino, or to withdraw them at any time.
"We appreciate this has been an inconvenience to you, but are happy to have the situation resolved and to make your deposited funds available to you again."
One affected player commented: "I deposited into my account and claimed some of these happy hour bonuses. By 1am they were removed from the account in full. The terms and conditions said there was supposed to be a 12 hour expiry period on these bonuses so my intention was to play them through early the next morning. Which would have been permissible by the terms. The next day my account was locked, it is now unlocked and my deposit has been returned."
Betfair's T&C's give the company generalised coverage for a wide range of management decisions, stating: If Betfair becomes aware of a customer who, in the course of participating in a promotion or offer, has become able to guarantee wins and/or profits with no or only minimal risk, and/or benefits from a promotion or offer by participating through more than one Betfair account, and/or displays irregular or unusual playing or betting patterns which Betfair deems to be abusive, Betfair may in its absolute discretion elect to do any one or more of the following: (i) close the customer’s account(s); (ii) invalidate the transactions or game play which was in contravention of this term; and/or (iii) withhold the customer’s winnings from such transactions or game play.
This sort of issue is not without precedent in the industry, one of the more memorable cases occurring some years ago when a major online gambling group erred on a promotion, and absorbed the consequent multi-million dollar costs itself rather than passing them on to players who had taken part. Players in other incidents have not been as fortunate and saw their winnings confiscated.
Adding levity to an otherwise serious and potentially reputation damaging issue was a YouTube video compiled by some wag, which merged the allegations with an old Hitler movie clip with hilarious if epithet riddled sub-titles which had almost 1000 views when we went to press.