NT Racing Regulator Channels UK Gambling Commission, Raps Betfair for Responsible Gambling Failures

Betfair was ordered to refund problem gambler after failing to spot “red flag behaviours”

Gambling operator Betfair, owner of the world’s biggest online betting exchange, was scolded by regulators in Australia’s Northern Territory for failing to identify “red flag behaviours” that showed a customer of the company had a serious gambling problem.

Betfair’s failure to spot its customer’s issues resulted in the latter losing hundreds of thousands of dollars within a few hours. The Northern Territory ruled that the company should refund the customer in question, described as Mr M in official documents, the amount of A$150,000 in “unlawful bets.”

The Commission’s ruling was issued last week and was concerned with a case dating back to February.

The Case

Mr M filed a dispute with the NT Racing Commission after gambling away more than A$190,000 within a few hours on Betfair’s website. Betfair is licensed in the Northern Territory to provide betting services to Australian customers and the local Racing Commission is the regulatory body that oversees the company’s activities.

According to official documents, Mr M requested on February 20, 2018 to have A$150,000 transferred from his Betfair betting account to his bank account after losing a significant amount of money on that day.

However, he managed to gamble away A$86,388 that had remained into his betting account a little over 20 minutes after making his initial request. The unfortunate bettor topped up his Betfair account with A$35,000 four hours later and gambled that amount within 47 minutes.

Mr M has told the NT Racing Commission that in what he has described as a “desperate mindset” he asked the gambling operator to reverse his earlier withdrawal request so that he could once again top up his betting account with A$150,000. The customer was initially told that a reversal of withdrawal request could not be canceled. However, after Mr M made several more calls to the company, a manager agreed to have his withdrawal request reversed in a one-off move. The gamble lost that A$150,000, too.

The Ruling

The NT Racing Commission has ruled that Betfair should refund Mr M the A$150,000 he had initially asked to be transferred to his bank account. The regulator has also said that Betfair clearly failed to detect a problem gambler, even though there were red flags that the customer the company was dealing had a gambling problem.

In addition, it came to the commission’s knowledge that Mr M had a history of problem gambling. The unnamed gambler self-excluded himself from gambling for six months in 2014 and had a one-month timeout on his wagering account in 2016.

In January 2018, a month before the February 20 incident that led up to his complaint with the Racing Commission, Mr M tried to have a A$40,000 withdrawal request reversed. However, his request was dismissed over “responsible gambling” considerations.

Betfair has told the commission that it could not have known that Mr M had gambling issues as he had never informed the operator about his problem and that it did not spot any “discernible indicators” in his gambling activity.

In its ruling, the regulator has said that Betfair failed to comply with existing gambling regulations and to detect “red flag behaviours”, and that if it had not failed to detect those, it would have suspended Mr M’s account and would have prevented him from losing a huge amount of money.

Aside from being ordered to refund its customer, Betfair was also fined A$13,175. That was the third time in the past year and a half that the gambling operator breached conditions of its license from the Northern Territory, the commission has noted in its ruling.

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