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Thursday, January 20, 2011

Betfair: poker funds now missing

Betfair currently seems to be lurching from one crisis to another. In November it was the Happy Hour fiasco in the casino, where staff incompetence resulted in the loss of millions of pounds from an unlimited bonus offer, funds which were subsequently withheld from customers. Now, a software issue is causing poker players' money to vanish into the ether and Betfair does not appear fully up to speed with the matter four days after it was reported - see the BetFair - something weird is happening discussion on the 2+2 forum.

Betfair's initial response, though apologetic and otherwise encouraging, contained a rather bizarre requirement:

Please take note of the time and specific details, (screenshots, etc, if possible), so that your money can be refunded.

To which, one affected player logically asked:

...and how do you expect people to screen shot stuff that happened hours ago?

The Betfair poker forum has been awash with worried players - here's a handful of the threads posted:

No answers and no clue


Cashing out problem

Why hasn't poker been taken offline?

Still missing 2K

Money disappeared

What is happening?


Can't see balance

Is this a bad dream?

Getting worried

Yesterday, the Betfair rep posted an update:

Betfair Poker is currently offline due to maintenance. Our technical team have taken this decision in order to fix the issue of “trapped funds between poker clients and accounts”.

The site will continue to be offline until the problem is resolved. We are unable at this time to give a time when this will be fixed, however, please be assured that we are doing everything we can to get the site up and running as quickly as possible.

All users that have been affected by this issue will be credited in full.

Our sincerest apologies to all users and thank you for your continued patience.

This was followed today with this:

The technical issues with Betfair Poker have been resolved and the site is available to use.

We are aware that some customers are still waiting for funds to be returned to their accounts following the recent poker money transaction problem. Please be assured that returning funds back to accounts is our priority at the moment. We have now processed 80% of trapped funds and duplicate transactions and funds have been returned to the rightful players. As soon as we have a timeline when all remaining refunds will be credited to users, we’ll post an update to this announcement.

Please accept our apologies for the inconvenience caused.

In addition to the above, this was posted at the 2+2 forum recently by the Betfair rep:

19th January

We are currently in the process of putting together a campaign plan for February to offer extra value to affected players. The timeline and campaigns will be published within the next few days and this will top-up our normal February offer.

Which is good. When a casino or poker room makes a mistake, a full resolution of the matter and a compensatory gesture to make up for the anxiety caused is the way to put it right.

So as it stands, it seems unlikely that any player will be left out of pocket after everything is finally sorted out. However, Betfair is currently piling disaster upon disaster and demonstrating incompetence and inefficiency. And all this, it bears remembering, comes on the back of the recent stockmarket flotation in October last year.

Is Betfair now simply too big to be efficient?

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Sunday, January 16, 2011

UK set to tighten online gambling controls

The Mail Online has reported on what appears to be the outcome of an online gambling consultation that started two years ago:

Crackdown on foreign internet gambling operators

A dramatic crackdown on online gambling firms could result in hundreds of foreign operators being forced out of Britain.

Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt is planning to stop companies based overseas from advertising in this country amid mounting concern that millions are becoming addicted to gambling.


I reported on the start of this process - see my UK online gambling set to be tightened up article.

Interesting to note is this:

He is also considering a ban on the use of credit cards for internet gaming to stop people risking money they do not have, the Daily Mail has learned.

This measure was not considered in the original consultation document, and is likely to have powerful effect.

It's not clear from the report if the proposed overhaul only covers advertising and not the actual provision of online gambling services. The original consultation recommended that all operators not based in the UK obtain a license in order to transact with UK customers:

...Introduce the need for such operators (EEA members states) to obtain a licence to enable them to transact with British consumers and advertise in the UK, (and)... develop a more streamlined white listing process, as well as introduce licensing for operators in white listed jurisdictions.

Hopefully this will ultimately embrace the provision of gambling services, and not just the advertising of such. Either way, it's good to see the government starting to take a more responsible attitude towards online gambling in the wake of the irresponsible free-for-all that was introduced by New Labour in 2005.

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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

US Senator Harry Reid: online gambling volte-face in the wake of heavy backing from the casino industry

US senator for Nevada Harry Reid failed last month in his bid to push online gambling legalisation through the US Congress during the "lame duck" session; according to The Washington Times:

Reid unlikely to hold the trump card in push for Internet gambling

Mr. Reid, Nevada Democrat, came up short last month during the congressional lame-duck session in his bid to allow U.S. casino companies to establish Internet poker sites and give them a cut of the multibillion-dollar offshore industry.


The good senator is a former opponent to online gambling who has now, it seems, done a volte-face in favour of legalisation. This u-turn may not be entirely altruistic, as further into the above article we read the following regarding Reid's election campaign funding:

By the time Mr. Reid eked out a win on Nov. 2, he had received at least $650,000 from several Las Vegas casino companies, including MGM Resorts International, which owns the Bellagio, and Harrah's Entertainment, whose holdings include Caesars Palace.

MGM and Harrahs are both looking to establish an online presence if and when it becomes legally possible and can only benefit from pro-gambling lobbying. Of course, Senator Reid's new, favourable stance may be entirely unconnected to the receipt of the better part of three quarters of a million dollars from gambling corporations into his election fund. But that seems fairly unlikely. As noted by Politico:

...his critics have blasted his bill as political payback to the big casino interests that would reap millions of dollars from online poker and that helped him win reelection last month.

However, putting aside the heavy vested interests of these campaign contributors, the failure to get the bill through Congress and the appointment of arch gambling opponent Spencer Bachus to the chair of the Financial Services Committee leaves the prospect of US federal online gambling legalisation looking something of a pipe dream.

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