Betfred slumped to an operating loss of more than £40 million in the year to October 31, 2018, and it blamed the UK government’s FOBT crackdown. The maximum stake on the virtual roulette machines was not reduced from £100 to £2 until April this year, but the news was announced last year and that caused a write-down of its betting shop business. That saw the company hit by exceptional costs of £1198.6 million. Betfred has 1,650 betting shops on October 31, 2018, but owner Fred Done has said that 500 could close as a result of the government’s decision. The firm also lost £28.7 million last year, but Done and brother Peter have maintained a dividend of £10.2 million in both 2017 and 2018. The pair already have a combined net worth of £1.25 billion, according to The Sunday Times Rich List.
Unibet licensee Platinum Gaming has agreed to pay a penalty of £1.6 million as a result of its failures around money laundering and social responsibility. A UK Gambling Commission investigation found a convicted fraudster spent more than £600,000 in stolen money at the company. It said his losses were so significant that Unibet should have considered refusing service. In lieu of a find, it agreed to repay the fraud victims the £629,420 they had stolen, plus £990,200 and £9,800 towards the UKGA’s legal costs. Richard Watson, Gambling Commission Executive Director, said: “There were weaknesses in Platinum Gaming’s systems and as a consequence, more than half a million pounds of stolen money flowed through the business. This is not acceptable and I would urge all operators to carefully read this case and learn lessons so they don’t make the same mistakes.”
A punter’s long-running court case against Bet365 has been discontinued just before it was due to return to court in Belfast. Student Megan McCann was suing the operator for £1 million after it refused to pay her out £984,833 on a combined total of 960 £13 each-way Lucky 15s she placed on races at Bath, Kempton Park and Naas in June 2016. Bet365 claimed the stake had been provided by a third party in contravention of the firm’s terms and conditions, while it also refused to refund the £25,000 stake. McCann launched the legal battle in 2017 and it has continued to drag on, but now McCann’s legal team has lodged an official “notice of discontinuance” in the case. That led to speculation that Bet365 has agreed to pay her a settlement in order to close the case.
Betfair has announced a new multi-year deal to sponsor the Northumberland Plate Festival and Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle Racecourse. The Northumberland Plate is Europe’s richest 2-mile handicap and it has been run since 1882, when it took place at Gosforth. The racecourse’s executive director, David Williamson, said: “We’re delighted to welcome Betfair on board as the principle partner of two of our feature meetings at Newcastle Racecourse. The Northumberland Plate is a race very much embedded in the history of the area and we look forward to a new era with such a prestigious new sponsor. The Fighting Fifth often attracts some of the top two-mile hurdlers from Britain and Ireland and the clash between Buveur D’Air and Samcro was one of the most anticipated clashes of last season.”