Unibet Left Sweating After $1 million Astros Bet

By Martin Green20 October 2019
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The Tote is set to enter a new era after a consortium of investors completed its acquisition from Betfred this week. The investors united under the banner Together For The Tote, and they spent around £115 million to purchase it. “Today marks the start of an exciting new era for the Tote,” said chief executive Alex Frost after a Westminster reception to celebrate the deal. “Pool betting plays a leading role in racing jurisdictions around the world and we believe the Tote can play a similar role in the UK, while supporting and growing British racing in the years ahead.” Betfred boss Fred Done said his firm has made a significant contribution to racing over the last eight years, after buying the Tote from the government in 2011, and wished Frost and his team all the best.

Betfred was forced to pay a £332,000 fine over its failures to carry out adequate anti-money laundering checks. An investigation by the UK Gambling Commission discovered that a punter was able to deposit stolen funds that resulted in losses of £140,000. The customer was subsequently convicted of a £2 million fraud. Petfre, the Gibraltar trading subsidiary of Betfred, was ordered to replay the gross gambling yield on the £140,000 that it received, and make a payment of £182,000 to the National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms. It must also pay the UKGC’s costs in investigating the case. Neil McArthur, UKGC chief executive, warned bookmakers to “sit up and take notice” of the ruling, and added that individuals would be held to account in future if they were deemed responsible for such failings.

Ladbrokes Coral owner GVC led the way in funding problem gambling charity GambleAware during the six month to September 30, 2019. Operators are encouraged to donate 0.1% of their gross gambling yield to the charity, but voluntary donations typically fall short. GVC has pledged to donate £1.46 million, which is ahead of the rest of its peers. William Hill was next with £1 million, followed by Bet365 at £868,000 and Rank Group at £166,300. William Hill, GVC Holdings, Flutter Entertainment, Sky Bet and Bet365 have agreed to increase their voluntary contribution from 0.1% to 1% of gross gaming yield in no more than five years.

Sweden’s regulatory body Spelinspektionen has dropped its investigation into Bet365, Betsson, ATG and Kindred over allowing bets on sporting events featuring under-18s. The investigation began in April, after several bets were made on a match including first goal scorer and whether the player would score two or more goals. On closer inspection, the Swedish regulatory body has now decided that players were “largely over 18 years”, and revealed that it will be dropping the investigation against the four operators as a result.

Unibet took a $1 million wager at odds of 6/5 (2.20) on the Houston Astros to win the World Series. The Astros were locked in a ferocious battle with the New York Yankees to win the AL at the time, and they have now beaten the Yankees to tee up a World Series showdown with NL champions Washington Nationals. It is the first time the Nationals have reached the World Series, whereas the Astros won it in 2017 and they are now clear odds-on favourites for glory again. The bet was placed by American entrepreneur Jim McIngvale, a businessman known for owning and operating the Gallery Furniture retail chain, and his philanthropy during the 2017 Hurricane Harvey disaster.