In January 2018, Betfred customer Andy Green hit the jackpot. Or at least he thought he did. A six-hour session of blackjack ended with him winning £1,722,923.54 ($2.3m). Little did he know that it would take over three years to get his money.
Mr Green had been playing a game called Frankie Dettori’s Magic Seven Blackjack—an app provided by software giant, Playtech. He bagged his win at the game’s maximum odds of 7777-1. Only after several days of celebration was he informed that Betfred would not be paying out.
Thus began a protracted legal battle which had a severe impact on his physical and mental health. Speaking outside the court which had just ruled in his favor, Mr. Green said, “I sometimes wished I’d never won this money, because it was just making my life a misery.”
Betfred’s objection to paying out was based on what they referred to as a “defect” in the game. Its lawyers had argued that the glitch made the game more likely to award big prizes.
A Betfred spokesperson explained, “Mr Green won the jackpot three times whilst playing a game provided by one of our third-party suppliers. The supplier reported a software problem to us and advised that we should withhold payment.”
A Victory for the Small Guy
Initially, Betfred offered Mr. Green £60,000 as a goodwill gesture—with the proviso that he sign a non-disclosure agreement. But Green said he had felt “robbed” and decided to take his case to the courts. After 1167 days that Green said, “felt like hell on earth”, Mrs Justice Foster ruled in his favor. He will now at last see his money, plus three years’ worth of interest.
Mr. Green was quick to point out the wider ramifications of the decision, saying, “This is not just a win for me, but a win for everybody in a similar position.” It is possible that other disgruntled customers could be encouraged to seek legal reparations. The Independent Betting Adjudication Service received 6282 requests for help in 2019 alone.
Green added, “I did nothing wrong; I played a game, I was congratulated for five days on being a millionaire, and then it was snatched away from me.”
Small-Print Fails to Save the Day for Betfred
Mrs Justice Foster was unconvinced by Betfred’s terms and conditions, and stated that they were, “ inadequate to exempt Betfred from the obligation to pay out on an ostensibly winning bet or series of bets.”
One clause that Betfred’s defense had relied heavily on was described by the judge as “just not apt to cover the circumstances of this case at all”. She continued, “It is not dealing with the failure to pay out winnings at all. Nor is it dealing with a fault or glitch or programming mistake that is undetectable to either party.”
Green’s Solicitor Peter Coyle said, “I am absolutely thrilled for Andy and his family… Our justice system has delivered exactly the right result and it will give hope to others who may be thinking that the big, rich guys always win.”
Betfred has accepted the verdict. Its spokesperson said the casino operator would “abide by the court’s decision and not appeal. We would like to apologize to Mr. Green for the delay in receiving his money.”