Friday June 15,2012 : ONLINE WINS JUST TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE?
Online casino claims software error benefited its own ‘Man Who Broke the Bank in Monte Carlo'
London's High Court is the scene this week of a legal battle between an Italian online casino gambler and the operator of the internet gambling website Eurobet, which is refusing to pay out the 707,665 Euros which the player won on one of its virtual gaming machines.
The Telegraph newspaper reports that Bruno Venturi, a 41-year-old pet shop worker from Naples started playing from his home computer one evening in 2009 and in a three-and-a-half hour lucky streak ran Euro 20 into Euro 707,665 while playing Eurobet's lottery-style game ‘Sixty Seconds'.
The more he won, the bigger he bet until, emotionally exhausted, he quit at midnight, planning to travel to London to collect his winnings personally.
But the online casino operator subsequently dropped the hammer, disqualifying the win on grounds that a software upgrade had corrupted the game to the extent that Venturi was mistakenly charged for only one in six of his bets, radically changing the odds in his favour. The game has since been withdrawn from the Internet.
Venturi's lawyers counter this by demanding proof of the malfunction. Venturi's barrister, John McLinden QC, said: "Mr Venturi denies any software error as alleged by the defendant. The defendant has failed to establish that Mr Venturi broke any rules of the game whilst playing and obtaining the winnings."
He added: "Mr Venturi performed his part of the game by completing various steps and screens presented to him by the defendant on the website, and paid for his bets on the game from the funds in his account. He did everything that was required of him to pay for the bets.
"If his account was not charged at any time for the repeat bets, which is not admitted, that omission was due to the defendant's failure to completely perform its obligations to him, and to comply with its regulatory requirements."
Venturi has been playing on Eurobet for two years and has never been this lucky before, but contends that: "I had always lost previously… but when I started to win I had a very good feeling. I'm a player and my instincts told me to keep betting.
"How could I realise there was an error. There was no message, I was just drawing, I didn't have a clue… I thought I was very lucky."
In an aside in the High Court case, presiding Judge Simon Brown QC said the dispute reminded him of the 1935 film, ‘The Man who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo'.
The film, inspired by an old British music hall song of the same name, is a romantic comedy which tells the story of a former Russian aristocrat who by luck wins 10 million francs playing baccarat at a casino.
The casino dispatches a beautiful woman to attempt to lure him back to the gambling tables and he is eventually left penniless again.
Patrick Lawrence QC, for Eurobet, said the bug meant it was "mathematically inevitable" that Mr Venturi would keep hitting the jackpot. He claimed the bets breached the website's terms and conditions, and his winnings amounted to "unjust enrichment".
The hearing continues.