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Betfair punter refunded $150,000 after landmark verdict

Tue, Nov 13, 2:23pm by Staff Writer

An Australian punter has won a landmark verdict after it was found online gambling website Betfair Australia failed to identify his “red-flag” betting behaviours.

The unidentified gambler, known as Mr M, took his case against Betfair to its Northern Territory regulator where it was found that Betfair should have identified certain “red-flag” behaviours that indicate a customer was a problem gambler.

According to the Northern Territory racing commission these include gambling for extended periods of time, changes in bettering partners, increases in deposit frequency and increases in sums of money deposited.

In February 2018 the complainant requested that Betfair deposit A$150,000 into his bank account, but had a change of heart just a few hours later.

In a “desperate mindset” after losing A$190,000 in a short period of time, the gambler requested Betfair reverse the transaction and return the money to his betting account.

“Longstanding loyalty” comes into consideration

Betfair allege that they honoured the punters request for the reversal of his withdrawal based on “longstanding loyalty” to the company.

The reversal was described as a “one-off” and the punter proceeded to gamble and lose on bets placed at Betfair that day.

The gambler had previously self-excluded from the site on two occasions and increased his deposits over the two months immediately prior to the incident.

In 2016 and 2017 deposits to Betfair totalled $69,000 (AUD) but in 2018 they spiked to $380,000 (AUD).

The policy director of the Financial Counselling Australia, Lauren Levin, told the Sydney Morning Herald that “this case is a turning point.”

Betfair is owned by James Packer’s Crown Resorts and has more than 20,000 active monthly users.

It operates as a betting exchange where punters back or lay bets against one another. Unlike traditional bookmakers that pay out on a winning result, Betfair customers are able to lay a bet or bet on something not to happen.

All bets made on Betfair must be “matched” by a user for them to stand with Betfair changing a commission on the net winnings on a market with a market base rate of 5 per cent.

The commission’s decision comes at a time where state and federal governments in Australia are moving to standardise the online gambling industry. There is set to be an emphasis on checks on big-spenders and monitor their deposits ensuring they are safe and reasonable.

Betfair was forced to refund the punter A$150,000 and was fined A$13,175 by the Northern Territory racing commission, who said it was the third time in 18 months that Betfair had failed to observe a condition of its licence.

Betfair Australia has been fully owned by Australia casino operator Crown Resorts since 2014 after it was established in 2005, operating as Australia’s only betting exchange under a Tasmanian Gaming Licence. It was the second licence awarded to Betfair outside the UK, following Malta, while the company has since successfully recieved licences in Austria and Germany.

In late 2016, Betfair turned it’s back on Tasmania in favour of a move to the Northern Territory, which at the time was said to cost the southernmost state in Australia more than $3 million a year in state revenue, while the company pays around $805,000 in annual tax and licence fees.

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