£1.7m Betfred Dispute Goes to High Court

A UK gambler has taken online betting firm Betfred to the High Court, over its refusal to pay out after he landed a jackpot win. Andy Green won £1.7 million when he won an online blackjack game on his phone. However, Betfred has claimed that due to a software error, Green will not be receiving his winnings.

A person in a blue shirt holding a mobile phone.

Andy Green won the Frankie Dettori’s Magic Seven game over two years ago, but has still not received a payout from Betfred. ©Adrianna Calvo/Pexels

Row Over Malfunction

Andy Green hit the jackpot in January 2018. For five days, the 53 year old from Lincolnshire was led to believe that he was a millionaire. However, those hopes came crashing down to earth when he received a phone call from a Betfred director in Gibraltar. That’s when Green was told that due to a software error he would not receive the jackpot payment after all.

Now Andy Green has taken his fight with Betfred to the High Court, in the hopes of being awarded his payment nearly three years late. Betfred has claimed that as per its terms and conditions, it is within its rights to withhold payment in the instance of a software error. Green and his lawyers have challenged that statement. They say that they never received proof that a software error even happened.

After winning the Frankie Dettori’s Magic Seven Blackjack game in 2018, Green’s online Betfred account was credited with his winnings. The issues began when he attempted to withdraw the sum, which amounted to £1,722,923.54 in total. Green’s request for withdrawal was declined, although he was able to place bets with his winnings, which he did. To record evidence of what happened, Green saved screenshots.

Betfred has remained steadfast in its assertion that Green is not entitled to the jackpot win, but it has offered a number of goodwill gestures to settle the argument. The betting company initially offered Green a one-off payment of £30,000 in return for his silence. Green did not accept, and the offer was doubled to £60,000. Green refused this offer too, and more than two years later is still determined to obtain for the full jackpot sum.

Now Green’s case has been taken to the High Court, where he is suing Betfred and its parent company, Petfre. He is now demanding £2 million, which includes the interest he would have accrued if he had been awarded the payout straight away.

Green, who suffers from poor health, says that the ordeal has had a negative impact on his life. He has suffered four heart attacks, one of which occurred since he was told he had won the £1.7 million jackpot. Green has described the intervening years as “hell on earth”, adding:

“Hopefully the judge will accept the arguments put forward by my legal team and this nightmare will be over. My champagne remains on ice!”

He Could Have Won £500m

Betfred’s defense rests on the set of terms and conditions that Green agreed to when he created his online account with the gambling operator. Specifically, there is a clause that states that all pays and plays will be voided in the incident of a malfunction. Since the Frankie Dettori’s Magic Seven Blackjack game did indeed malfunction, Betfred maintains that it is in the right.

Green’s solicitor, Peter Coyle, says that Betfred’s terms and conditions do not allow for it to withhold payment. As part of his argument he says that Betfred should have refunded other customers who played the malfunctioning game. According to Coyle, there is no evidence of any refunds having been made, and it was only Green’s staggering win that was denied.

The software used in the online blackjack game that Green played was licensed from Playtech, one of the world’s largest purveyors of online betting and gaming software. It has refused to reveal what exactly went wrong with Frankie Dettori’s Magic Seven Blackjack, and even its fault report to UK regulator, the Gambling Commission, consists of only four lines. Despite this, Playtech is not part of the case.

However, the Daily Mail has since published some details of the case. According to Betfred’s lawyer, Richard Osbourne, Green’s winnings could have been even higher had he continued playing. Due to the nature of the game’s error, he told the court that Green could have made a jaw-dropping £500 million.

Part of the gameplay of Frankie Dettori’s Magic Seven Blackjack included trophy cards, which are reset with each hand. However, when Green played, a glitch meant that these trophy cards were not reset, so increased as the game went on. As Green played for an hour and a half, his trophy cards grew and he won 7,000 times his stakes on three occasions. Had Green continued to play for longer, he would have continued to win more, with eventually every one of his cards becoming a trophy card.

Green’s lawyers say that Betfred has not been able to provide adequate proof that there was a software issue. They have requested a summary judgment, which would allow the judge to decide the case without a trial. The judge has reserved judgment. If Green wins the case, it could set a precedent for other gamblers that have suffered similar plights.

Betfred to Cut Staff Pay

Betfred has also hit the headlines for the wrong reasons, after it revealed that it would cut staff pay at its closed Liverpool branches. The bookmaker runs 81 betting shops in the Liverpool City Region. However, as Liverpool is now subject to Tier 3 restrictions, all of these premises have been forced to close.

Affected staff are to be put on furlough, until the scheme draws to a close on October 31st. After that, Betfred will pay them 80% of their usual wages, while they are still unable to return to work. Employees have criticized the decision not to pay full wages, considering that brothers Fred and Peter Done, who run the company, are both billionaires. While many gambling operators, such as Betfred, do have large cash reserves, the coronavirus pandemic has come at a cost.

The Gambling Commission recently released figures highlighting the impact that COVID-19 has had on the UK’s industry. According to new data, online gambling fell in August, as did sports betting. Bookmakers have struggled during the pandemic, as cancelled schedules left little for punters to wager on. Some bettors switched to online casinos, but during the summer months relaxed lockdown measures meant that this vertical fell too.

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