Taking Betting Companies to Court: Suing Bookmakers & Casinos

british court crestAs gamblers, we like to think that online sportsbooks and casinos are sort of like our havens. They provide us with the games and sports betting opportunities that we enjoy participating in and, as such, we always expect to have fun at them. Of course, this isn’t something that always happens, and there have been reports before of people having exceptionally bad experiences at their chosen platforms.

At times, some bettors have experienced the site opting to withhold their withdrawal, resulting in unpaid winnings. Others have chosen to cancel players’ bets with very little information given as to why they have taken that course of action and when the customer has tried to have the problem resolved, little has come of it.

What happens when a problem has become so bad that the player needs to take the betting company to court? How is this process handled and what sort of cost does it involve? Are there any documented cases of disgruntled customers suing a betting company and winning?

We’re going to be taking an in-depth look at instances of betting companies being sued by players and finding out what went wrong to reach this outcome. Furthermore, we’re going to find out exactly how lengthy the process is, what the most common cases have been about and much more.

The Process of Suing a Betting Company

can i sueIn any instance of a sportsbook or casino taking action against you that you believe to be unfair, your first course of action should be to contact the customer support team directly. They should be able to provide you with information upon why a problem has arisen, and what can be done about it.

If it’s something like they are withholding your withdrawal, then it may just be that a site requires extra documents from you to confirm your identity. This is standard procedure when it comes to withdrawing from an online betting site. New rules were brought in by the UK Gambling Commission in 2019 that require also licensed operators to pre-verify customers who utilise their sites.

If the customer support team has provided all information but you’re still not happy with the outcome, then you can proceed to take things further. The Independent Betting Adjudication Service (IBAS) can be approached, as can the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) if it relates to an advertising realted issue.  You can contact the Gambling Commission themselves, although they do not deal with individual customer complaints but if there if you think an operator has contravened the terms of their license then you can contact them.

IBAS operates as an impartial adjudicator for any disputes that occur between bettors and gambling operators. Within IBAS, an adjudication service is made up of a panel of experts, and they know both the law and the gambling industry exceptionally well. The terms and conditions listed by the operator will be scrutinised by the team, to ensure that everything adheres to the rules and laws of the Gambling Commission. Upon making a ruling on the situation, that will be binding for all parties. An operator should be registered with IBAS, and it’s not recommended to sign up to one that isn’t, as legal action won’t be as easy.

One of the goals of IBAS is to ensure that parties do not have to enter into complex and expensive legal proceedings. Where the company cannot adjudicate, they must also direct consumers to the most appropriate course of action.

It is possible for IBAS to rule on cases that are worth up to £10,000. Anything outside of this will need to be taken to court, and if there is no dispute settlement between the operator and consumer via IBAS, court will also usually be the outcome as well. Using IBAS is a free service, and the operator pays a registration fee every year, which binds them to the terms and conditions of the company, too.

Should any party be in disagreement with the final ruling of IBAS, they can request that it is reviewed. However, if things need to be taken further at this point, then a court date will usually be set. That requires you to get in touch with a solicitor and find out what your options are.

UK LawThere are several legal companies that deal with gambling claims, and you’ll need to reach out to one of them to see where you stand. It’s also imperative to ensure that you are within your legal rights to sue the operator, and for this you need to ensure that you have read the terms and conditions effectively (something which IBAS also does).

Yet, it’s also important to realise that most claims against betting companies do fail. It needs to be a very strong case against them to result in a win.

It is critical you read the terms and conditions that you signed up to before deciding if you have a legal case.  Most cased fail because the operator has terms that you agreed to that cover them in some situations.  You are unlikely to beat them on their own terms, unless you can prove those terms are unreasonable or cannot be applied in that case.

Most legal teams will review your case initially for a fixed charge, and this will allow them to provide you with options, recommendations and the next steps you need to take if they think you have a case. Sometimes, they will offer no win no fee funding as well, although this is not guaranteed. It is not always the case that your case will fail though, as some cases in the past are testament to.

Graham Calvert Vs. William Hill

Graham Calvert was a greyhound trainer who had experienced plenty of success with his dogs. At the same time, he was quite the enthusiastic gambler, and in 2006, he placed the largest golf bet ever recorded – £347,000 on America to win the Ryder Cup. Unfortunately, Calvert lost that wager and a series of other bets. It was this that led to him closing his account at William Hill, also requesting that it not be opened again.

However, two weeks later, the betting company allowed him to re-open the account, and his losses escalated once again. Calvert requested that the bookmaker stopped taking his bets and also took advantage of the company’s self-exclusion program, as well as those of other bookies. The employee who spoke to Calvert about it on the telephone though, did not implement the William Hill procedure, meaning that it continued to facilitate his gambling addiction when he opened a new account two months later. Between the period of June and December 2006, he was allowed to make bets equating to a total of £3.5 million, and that resulted in a net loss of £2.1 million.

Calvert sued the William Hill brand, and the final judgement went in his favour. It was found that the bookmaker had failed in its duty of care to the customer, and remarks were made about the brand’s structural weakness. That being said, Calvert’s claim for his £2,052,972.18 in lost bets was thrown out on the grounds that he would have ruined himself via another bookmaker if not by William Hill. He had, it was found, continued to gamble via other brands even while his William Hill accounts were closed.

Ritz Casino Wins Court Battle with Gambling Addict

the ritzLooking now at a story with the opposite outcome.  It was in 2014 that London’s Ritz Casino found itself in court where it won a battle against a wealthy gambling addict. Nora Al-Daher, whose husband is the foreign minister of Oman, had failed to pay a debt, but she opted to sue the casino in July of that year following a loss of £2 million in one night.

Cheques that she had handed over were not honoured, but Al-Daher claimed that the casino should have stopped her from gambling as it had a duty of care to its customers. A High Court judge proceeded to reject her claims though, and instead backed the Ritz Casino.

As was the case with Calvert and William Hill, a Deputy Judge at the hearing stated that he had no doubt that Al-Daher would have been very much willing and inclined to gamble at other casinos during her stay in London. Therefore, her argument stating that the Ritz’s debt claim against her could not cussed based on “illegality” due to the unlawful giving of credit, did not stand.

Earlier on the same day, the customer had already experienced other losses within other casino establishments. However, Al-Daher remained adamant that the casino should have refused to give her extra credit, claiming that instead, the Ritz took advantage of her. In December of 2012, she paid £1 million to the casino but left a £1 million outstanding debt. Due to this, the casino sued Al-Daher for the balance plus interest.

Betfred Refuses Payment and Is Sued by Punter

betfred logoAndrew Green definitely thought he had scored a big victory when he accessed a game on the Betfred website. Choosing to play Frankie Dettori’s Magic Seven game while on the site, he managed to score a £1.7 million win and took to celebrating in his local pub. However, five days later, Green was informed that he was not entitled to the cash because the game had suffered a “software malfunction”, which led to the huge pay-out.

Betfred did offer to provide a £60,000 settlement for the error, although Green would also be forced to sign a nondisclosure agreement at the same time. However, he declined this and opted to take the case to the High Court instead.

Andrew said that he had been bullied by the gambling site, but that he wasn’t going to give up. “Even if there was a glitch, I did nothing wrong. I played that game and pressed a button”, he said.

It was in January of 2018 that Green placed a £100 stake on the aforementioned game. And while he initially lost the majority of his bankroll, he managed to work his way back up from just £3 to £600,000. And then, one final play of the game landed him the £1.7 million jackpot victory, he stated. This is what led to him spending £2,500 in the pub, toasting his new-found fortune. Of course, when Betfred voided the win and suggested a glitch was responsible, he was not happy.

Peter Coyle, operating as Green’s solicitor, said that Betfred had refused repeated requests to provide evidence of the problem that the game experienced. According to the preliminary High Court hearing, the room was told that the operator did not have the game data, so Betfred could not be forced to hand it over.

Green’s court case officially commenced on April 25, 2019. The case grew so big that it was also picked up by the popular television programme The One Show, and after his grievance was aired there, an anonymous benefactor donated £10,000 to him. This allowed him to take Betfred back to the High Court, which occurred in May of 2019. Further details on how the case has proceeded are, as of the moment, unable to be found.