Friday March 7 ,2014 : NO PLANS TO REVIVE CANBET
This looks increasingly like another issue where the players will ultimately carry the can.
The Canbet issue reported by us last month appears to be going from bad to worse, with new revelations flowing from extensive Australian media coverage, and one of the company's Australian-based directors revealing that there are no plans to revive the company.
Among the fresh allegations are claims that the betting company took wagers illegally on certain Australian horse races in three Aussie states.
Meanwhile Canbet's licensing jurisdiction, the UK Gambling Commission, continues its enquiries into the company's affairs after saying in February:
“Since we became aware of Canbet’s problems in November last year, we have kept in close touch with the company whilst they try to resolve matters.
“During that period the Gambling Commission has received some assurances about Canbet’s financial circumstances, most recently in a report from the company’s Group Auditor, dated 24 January 2014. Nevertheless, the backlog of customer payments has grown and deadlines for resolving the problems have passed.”
Certainly the coverage in Australia must be uncomfortable for two of Canbet's directors, Peter Lord and Graeme White, who are believed to be resident in that country.
Players owed allegedly substantial sums of money that could total as much as a million dollars remain in limbo on the issue and have expressed feelings of frustration at the apparent lack of official action to recover their money…if that is possible at all.
In a long article Friday that appears to have been motivated by player complaints, ABC News reports that punters from the UK, India, Eastern Europe and Canada have been unable to access thousands of dollars in winnings since late last year.
Originally Canbet claimed it had suffered technical issues, but speaking to ABC Canbet director Peter Lord now says that there are no plans to revive the website, which is currently offline.
However, he reiterated his assurance that he and the other directors are "working on a solution" for Canbet's owed customers, saying rather nebulously that "sales negotiations are ongoing", but adding that "…an all-out effort to ensure the necessary assets are liquidated to ensure they are paid" is in progress.
One punter interviewed by ABC had a sadly all too familiar story of delays and assurances to tell, saying:
"They had a UK licence, so they were licensed by the UK Gambling Commission so I just thought everything would be fine. But what I wasn't aware of was they didn't ring-fence their players' balances, their money, so that's obviously the problem we're faced with today."
With Canbet registered in the UK, it is not legally required to keep punters' funds separate from other revenue, ABC notes.
"I've got that sickness feeling in my stomach that I'm never going to get that money back and that someone else has got my money, someone who's already got this massive mansion and all these wonderful things already," said the dispirited punter. "I do feel like I've literally been robbed and that I don't really know where to go and who can help me."
Lord told ABC that the Canbet bonus offers were partly automated and clients have been told an IT problem was to blame.
"There was human error of some sort," he said with some uncertainty. "Either in devising a scheme that was too generous or in the site wrongly allowing bonus reloads."
Approached by ABC for comment, horse racing authorities in Australia claimed that Canbet had been placing wagers on the sport across three Australian states without the proper approval, although it appears the regulators will not take action.
Racing Victoria chief executive Bernard Saundry confirmed that Canbet is not approved to bet on Victorian racing. Saundry says Racing Victoria first became aware of problems with Canbet in January this year and referred the company to the Victorian Gambling Commission.
"We make [the regulator] aware … and it's their right to investigate … the operations of those unauthorised operators," he said.
Racing Queensland said that Canbet appears to have breached Queensland's race information legalization.
"They weren't approved to wager on Queensland thoroughbred, harness or greyhound racing," the organisation told the ABC.
However, the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation has told the ABC that, because it is licensed in the UK, Canbet comes under the jurisdiction of the UK Gambling Commission.
The British regulator has a number of options:
"We may decide to take no further action; decide to give the licensee advice as to their conduct; give the licensee a warning; add, remove or vary a condition to their licence; suspend a licence, revoke a licence, impose a financial penalty," the UK Gambling Commission said in a statement.
One problem gambling expert in Australia suggests that international policing of the internet gambling business may be necessary.
Dr. Charles Livingstone of Monash University told ABC:
"A series of appropriate international agreements with the major providers would at least guarantee punters' return of their winnings and their money if everything goes pear-shaped.
"I think it's important that we start pressing for those sorts of agreements, particularly with the major countries where these sorts of operations are housed."