New details hint at scale of BetBright injustice on punters – Talking Horses

It may be just six days until the start of the Cheltenham but there are no apologies this morning for bringing football into the discussion, since the details of just two bets with the now ex-bookie BetBright hint at the scale of the injustice which will be inflicted on punters if, as currently seems possible, it is allowed to simply walk away from its ante-post liabilities.

The Guardian has seen details of two bets placed by the same BetBright customer last year. The first was a £100 each-way double on Luton in League One at 14-1 and Lincoln in League Two at 10-1. The second was a £25 each-way Trixie – three doubles and a treble – on Lincoln (4-1), Leeds United in the Championship at 5-1 and Arbroath, in League One in Scotland at 6-1.

Luton, Lincoln and Arbroath currently top their respective divisions by five, two and 14 points respectively, while Leeds are two points behind Norwich at the top and seven clear of WBA in fourth. The book is effectively closed on Arbroath, who are now top-priced at 1-50, while Leeds, Luton and Lincoln are 5-2, 4-11 and 11-10 respectively.

The each-way double has a potential pay-out of £18,075 including the initial £200 stake, while the Trixie would return £8,584 for the same initial stake if all three teams win their divisions.

Early on Tuesday afternoon, however, BetBright decided that, from midnight, all bets were off and stakes were to be refunded. There was no offer to honour their side of the bets, no chance of a cash-out – which in this case alone would have run to several thousand pounds – and not even the first suggestion of an apology.

Two aspects of this indefensible conduct set it apart from run-of-the-mill stories where a bookie goes bust and leaves punters out of pocket.

The first is that BetBright has not gone bust. Its former executive chairman sold it to a rival operator,, for £15m on Monday but the sale price covered only BetBright’s high-end technology, and not its outstanding liabilities.

The second is that the former executive chairman concerned is none other than Rich Ricci, one of National Hunt’s most successful owners and certainly – thanks to his taste for loud suits and sunshades in all weathers – one of the most visible. His likely runners at Cheltenham next week include Benie Des Dieux, 11-10 favourite for the Mares’ Hurdle on Tuesday, and Min, the second-favourite for the Champion Chase.

It may seem astonishing that a bookmaker with a market value of £15m can simply shut up shop and walk away from potential liabilities that, if the case detailed above is any guide, must run well into six figures. All the cancelled bets were placed in good faith with a firm that sponsored several major races and events and was also the shirt sponsor of Championship side Nottingham Forest. Ricci’s familiarity and prominence as a racehorse owner may also have offered reassurance to punters that BetBright was no fly-by-night operation.

Just a week before the Cheltenham Festival, however, its former customers have been left in the lurch and seemingly with nowhere to turn. The Gambling Commission, the industry’s regulator, has so far issued only a feeble, one-line statement that it has “received a number of complaints about this matter” and is “making further enquiries”.

The GC’s mission statement, as has been pointed out here many times, includes a claim that it will ensure gambling is conducted in a “fair and open” way. But it should not need to make any “further enquiries” to appreciate the blatant unfairness in a case which also seems to highlight a gaping hole in the law. If BetBright is allowed to get away with cancelling its outstanding bets, what is there to prevent someone from setting up as a bookie, laying ante-post bets and then shutting up shop if their positions turn sour?

The attempt by some trainers and owners to boycott today’s cards at tracks owned by Arena Racing Company has produced one of the thinnest afternoons of action for a long time and obvious bets are thin on the ground.

Sweet Nature (4.00) is the only likely winner at anything like a fair price on the Lingfield card, but there are better fields at Kempton Park this evening, where In The Red (7.30) and Maximum Power (8.30) both go to post with strong chances.

Fontwell 2.10 Edgar 2.40 Perfect Moment 3.10 Gregarious 3.40 Urca De Lima 4.10 Away For Slates 4.40 Lily The Pink 

Catterick 2.20 Weapon Of Choice 2.50 Debece 3.20 Pink Legend 3.50 Commis D’Office 4.20 Same Circus 4.50 Diplomate Sivola 5.20 Miss Heritage 

Lingfield Park 2.30 Brinkleys Katie 3.00 Shyron 3.30 Sea Of Marengo 4.00 Sweet Nature 4.30 Haats Off 5.00 Sea’s Aria 

Kempton Park 4.55 Matterhorn 5.30 Jai Hanuman 6.00 Roma Bangkok 6.30 Don Jupp 7.00 Jahbath 7.30 In The Red (nap) 8.00 Storm Melody
Maximum Power


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