In another attempt to control and silence the public Andrew Rhodes published another open letter this week…
Like previous letters, Mr. Rhodes infuriated consumers by stating that affordability checks would not impact them (they already do). That companies wouldn’t use them for commercial purposes (they already do), and that checks would be frictionless (they certainly are not).
Now, my intention is only to inform, not mislead. So I’m backing the 3 statements I have just made with a factual post including examples of a recent incident where the Independent Betting Adjudication Service (IBAS) contradicted Mr. Rhodes promises.
This shows that not only is the public being exploited here, but the ‘independent’ dispute resolution sides with the offender. This case is not in isolation.
A quick reference from Andrew’s open letter before we start;
Betting Dispute Resolution: The Problem
After depositing £500 (unchecked) and risking their money, £1,142 was won with SkyBet.
Then, the account holder received this email…
As the email states; requesting unredacted bank statements is all part of the companies ‘regulatory and compliance’ requirements, stipulated by the Gambling Commission. Andrew Rhodes and Tim Miller of the GC recently said that operators would “find themselves on the sharp end of regulation” if they were misused for other reasons.
Reluctantly, the account holder sent their documents. After all, they had no option if they wanted to withdraw the £1,642 in their account.
Shortly after, SkyBet refused to pay the profits and the dispute process began.
The operator responded to IBAS with the following:
So the consumer provided their unredacted bank statements for regulatory and compliance reasons.
SkyBet then used the bank statements to link them to another person, and refuse payout. The supporting reason is a rather vague term from their terms and conditions.
Isn’t that misusing checks for a commercial purpose beyond what they were intended?
There are 3 important points to note here:
First, we live in a digital world where cash is increasingly absent. Pinging some funds to a friend or family member is totally normal. For many people it’s not small amounts either; meals out, beers down the pub, joint holidays and temporary loans do happen. To use regulation for the purpose of obtaining bank statements and then link customers appears to be for commercial benefit.
Bookmakers promote tipsters that help consumers lose money, is this not collusion too? Aside from the double standards and commercial use, this doesn’t appear to be ‘fair and open’ as per the Gambling Commission’s second licensing objective. The affordability checking process enables and encourages this behaviour.
Second, this digital world we all rely on is built upon a complex network of internet providers, routing and servers. For two people to have the same IP address is also very normal. If my mobile phone has been linked to the same WiFi hotspot as yours, that doesn’t mean I’m the person behind your bets. Worse still, if we should both attend a football match or racecourse, there’s a very high probability that thousands of accounts would be linking to the same free WiFi.
Third, thousands of companies have terms that aren’t legal. Just because a company says something in their terms, it doesn’t make it reasonable or fair. Many of the betting companies say that if you bet with another provider then they might not have to pay you. It’s just plain wrong, just about every person who bets online has more than one betting account. It includes almost everyone who likes a bet.
Now before we reach the IBAS conclusion, consider this:
If the shoe was on the other foot, and this punter had lost a vast sum of money but was linked to a gambling addict – would SkyBet be offering the money back?
I cannot find any such case.
An Independent Ruling?
Several months after the initial bets, IBAS reached a ruling in this case.
Yes, months. Not quite as ‘frictionless’ as the Gambling Commission repeatedly claims.
The ‘independent’ betting adjudication service decided in favour of the corporation.
Not only is it clear that the company have abused the Gambling Commission’s regulatory checking process to enhance its bottom-line profits, but the consumer dispute resolution body has endorsed it. Based upon what evidence?
Flimsy linking of IP addresses with a previous winning account and a friend sending him some money. Perhaps this is my outlandish imagination, but perhaps, seeing they were friends, they used the same WiFi hotspot at some point.
This is grotesquely unfair, particularly when you consider SkyBet choose its own betting odds and limit or restrict winning bets. If they have a problem with their product they should be focusing on correcting it, not using regulatory checks to avoid paying out winnings after the customer has taken 100% of the risk.
This is clear evidence of a Gambling Commission licensee using regulatory checks for reasons other than they are intended.
So what have Mr Rhodes and the Gambling Commission done about it?
In fact, it’s worse than that; they minimised the issues, ignored the public and continually push ahead with these ridiculous checks. Mr. Rhodes even went as far as deleting my comments when I asked him about this issue. Check out the next article to see what happened…
Update: since publication, multiple readers have been in touch about the same problem. If this has happened to you, and you would like to add to the evidence we are gathering, please forward it to the support email available on our contact page. Thank you.