Wednesday May 8,2013 : GAMBLING AUTHORITY IN SPORTS ALIVE CASE CLEARED (Update)
Ombudsman rules against players
The Australian Capital Territory's gambling regulator has been cleared by the state Ombudsman of fault in the spectacular A$14 million collapse of online bookie Sports Alive four years ago.
The Canberra Times newspaper reports that punters lost around A$3.8 million in the internet betting company's failure, but that there is no relief from the Ombudsman’s ruling, which is that complaints against the ACT Gambling and Racing Commission will not be pursued, leaving them as unsecured creditors.
The Ombudsman's office found after a 20-month enquiry that directors of the defunct online gambling house misled authorities about its true financial position.
Sports Alive collapsed in 2009, with debts of more than $14 million including $3.8 million to 18,000 online betting customers. A Victoria Supreme Court decision in March positioned the punters behind secured creditors for refunds of monies owed.
The collapse is now being investigated by fraud squad detectives in Melbourne, where the betting agency conducted most of its business, and by corporate watchdog the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC).
The players involved are disappointed in the ruling; Dennis Tuan-Mu, who has led the punters' protests, was scathing in his criticism of the Ombudsman, saying: “This matter sat on the backburner for months with no notification to accountholders, and was hand-passed around until it went to a part-time officer.
“The final reasons provided by the Ombudsman are brief, generic and provide no basis for how they reached their ultimate outcome.
“They took the easy way out and simply blamed the Sports Alive directors for misleading the ACT GRC.
“However, they failed to comment on how the ACT GRC didn't even perform basic and rudimentary checks of Sports Alive's multiple breaches at any time over eight years, any one of which would have alerted them to problems."