The Punter: Betfair in firing line over £23m
Betfair have been keeping their heads down after the unbelievable betting fiasco on their exchange last week in the Leopardstown Christmas Hurdle won by the 13-8 second favourite Voler La Vedette.
A layer made £21m available for backers in-running at odds of 28-1 which, if it had been totally matched, would have resulted in the biggest payout in betting history of £600m.
However, £800,000 was staked leaving a potential payout of £23m which is now the centre of controversy after Betfair voided all in-running bets due to a ‘technical failure.'
One of their rules, which customers agree to accept, gives them the sole discretion to void bets if there is a systems failure, thereby protecting the integrity of markets and the interests of customers.
The recent furore saw £40m wiped off Betfair's share value and around 150 customers are clamouring to be paid on matched bets.
The price of 29 was no one-off fluke as backers were on at odds ranging from 19.50 to 70 to small amounts while £1,215 was matched at 30, although it could all have arisen from the same source.
Systems are supposed to be in place which prevent bets being matched that exceed a customer's liability. In this case the customer had less than £1,000 in their account so none of those bets should have been accepted.
But how is that compatible with a company rule governing maximum and minimum stakes which states: “In the event that we process an offer for a bet or the acceptance of a bet in an amount outside the applicable thresholds, such bets will nevertheless stand”
Does that mean Betfair are responsible for amounts which exceed liability? What about those bets placed up to the customer's £1,000? Also, is it right to penalise those who laid the favourite Mourad and other runners? Why must they lose out?
Unlike bookmakers, exchange customers are totally responsible for what they offer. If a customer makes a mistake in hitting the back button instead of the lay button or puts in an incorrect amount — plenty have done so before — they have had to suffer the financial consequences. There is no such thing as a ‘wrong price' if it is displayed and matched.
Also, customers are supposed to be responsible for managing their in-play markets which includes monitoring bets.
A full explanation for the ‘technical failure' has yet to come forward and that, along with close scrutiny of how Betfair's terms and conditions apply, will have a crucial bearing on where this amazing affair ends.