It’s a court case which has rumbled on for quite some time, and it was finally announced on Friday that bet365 and Megan McCann will go head to head in a battle worth a cool £1 million.
The case in point dates back to June 2016 when McCann, who was just 19 at the time, staked £25 on 12 horses running in four separate races. That was made up of 960 each way Lucky 15 bets, and after a successful day’s punting she should have strolled into the sunset as a millionaire when a number of her picks did the business.
But the firm she placed them with, bet365, is refusing to pay out on the grounds that they believe her stake money was provided by a third party, which is a breach of their terms and conditions. McCann has vehemently denied any wrong doing.
The case has rumbled on for more than 18 months, with McCann now suing Hillside, the controlling company of bet365, for the full £1,009,960. A writ has been served to the high court in Belfast.
Bet365’s lawyer, Peter Hopkins, has secured a pre-trial application for the firm set for June 19, and his goal is to argue that some elements of McCann’s lawsuit are unsustainable and have them struck off before the case goes to a full court hearing.
The bookmaking giant’s original statement read: “A full investigation has been carried out into the circumstances of the bet that was placed.
“Bet365 is entirely satisfied the circumstances are such that winnings are not payable in relation to it. We expect this position to be upheld at trial.”
In the pursuit of her million, Miss McCann has instructed gambling specialist Andrew Montague to fight her corner. He was involved in a similar case in 2010 when Barney Curley, the Irish racehorse trainer, was refused his winnings of £823,000 as the money was placed on behalf of his relatives.
The legal process found that the bookmaker in question did have to cough up, and Curley’s family got their hands on the full amount. McCann will be hoping for a similar result later this year.
Do You Feel Lucky, Punk?
A Lucky 15 bet is one in which you pick out four selections and place 15 bets on them: four singles, six doubles, four trebles and a four-fold accumulator.
Winnings are accumulated should one or more of the horses win, and obviously the more that win the higher your return. In McCann’s case, she also placed them in an each way fashion, meaning that they probably would have had to finish in the top three – depending on the field size – to trouser some winnings.
She hedged her bets, quite literally, by placing a variety of Lucky 15 combinations on the 12 horses she had picked out, which ran in the 18:10 at Bath, 19:20 at Kempton and 19:00 and 20:20 at Naas on June 22, 2016.
In McCann’s case, she landed four winners and a myriad of each way places….resulting in her mammoth payday.
What Does This Case Mean for Ordinary Punters?
Once again, this is an example of the sportsbooks getting away with metaphorical murder and using their terms and conditions as a defence.
The UK Gambling Commission is on the case, however, and in a report to the UK government about the state of the industry they are expected to recommend a number of measures that dilutes bookmaker power and hands some of it back to punters.
In this case the defence is that McCann agreed to bet365’s smallprint simply by placing a bet – whether she was aware of the third-party clause or not; conditions which, according to her legal team, are ‘too lengthy, too complex and much too vague for the average customer to understand.’
The contention is this third-party rule, which states that the punter must be solely responsible for raising their stake money. But what about somebody placing a bet on the Grad National for an elderly relative; would they too be refused their winnings?
The Telegraph has been reporting on the case, and they have seen a frank and to-the-point legal letter which sums up the situation nicely: “our client’s case is very straightforward. She placed a bet with your client. She won. She is entitled to her winnings.”
The response from bet365 reads: “our client has reasonable grounds to suspect your client to be guilty of criminal offences including fraud by false representation; cheating or attempted cheating.”
The case continues, but the key conclusion remains: make sure you know all of the loopholes your bookie can use before you place a bet!