There was me hoping I could take the rest of the year off from blogging but little did I know that one of the craziest Sports Trading stories of 2011 was developing just as I was publishing yesterdays “final post of the year”.
You probably know by now that the winnings from the Christmas Hurdle @ Leopardstown on Wednesday was voided by Betfair after a “client” accidentally layed the winning horse @ 29 for over £21 million. At odds of 29 that would mean a liability in excess of £600 million and so the layer would had to have had at least £0.6 billion in his/hers Betfair account!
Sounds a bit fishy already doesn’t it?
The horse in question was Voler La Vedette, which is quite an apt name since it translates into “Steal The Show” in English. Voler La Vedette started the race @ 2.90 and, according to those watching the race, ran pretty well.
Then with the horse clearly looking like winning, the in running backers obviously couldn’t believe their luck at seeing that you could back the horse @ 29 and to make things even better there was about £21 million for the taking.
In the end “only” £1.6 million was matched but it still added up to a liability of near to £47 million for our mystery layer.
You might have thought that someone out there had got the horses mixed up or maybe even Betfair themselves had labelled the horses wrong. Things like this HAVE happened before but not with this amount of money being involved.
Many had thought Christmas 2012 had come early and I personally know a few people who had greened up to 4 and 5 figure amounts and then nervously waited to see if the market was settled.
In the late afternoon, the decision was taken by Betfair to void the market however the reason given was of particular interest.
The Guardian reported that Betfair put out a statement saying
“an obvious technical fault which allowed a customer to exceed their exposure limit”, and that “in accordance with our terms and conditions, all in-running bets on this race, both win and place, will be made void”.
So, Betfair are saying that a customer who has an account with them and, in their own words, “has no commercial relationship with Betfair other than being a customer.” keeps around half a billion pounds in their Betfair account?
Unless, it was Sheikh Mansour’s account I find it really hard to believe.
What will happen next?
Probably nothing more will happen from this apart from the added knock to the reputation of Betfair.
You can see how this mistake might have happened. Since the horse was trading around 2.90 mark then perhaps someone put in odds of 29 but forgot the decimal point.
Things like this have happened to me before and I am thankful for the bet “confirm” option. However, If I accidentally put in the wrong odds and had my bets hoovered up then I really wouldn’t expect Betfair to void the markets and give me my money back though.
There was talk on the Betfair forum about some sort of legal action in order to claim the winnings but Betfair have themselves covered since they are citing an obvious technical error for the mishap.
The fact that it seems that Betfair are protecting a client who made a mistake seems to be the main thing that is angering those who were involved in this race. Surely, if this client has half a billion just in his Betfair account then he can afford the pay out of “just” £47 million on that race in the end since not all of his £600 million liability was matched!
After all, that is not even 10% of his trading bank? I am sure many reading this will have lost more then 10% of their trading bank at some point! 😉
The conspiracy theorists are currently having a field day with this one and you might have to dig deep around a few forums to find some pretty credible theories that obviously cant be published on here.
Betfair could have just came out and said that the API had a glitch or was hacked and the money available wasn’t actually real money and I think everyone would have probably accepted that explanation.
However, Betfair have dug themselves a bit of a hole by claiming it was all one clients money. Particularly, when this “client” obviously has an absurd amount of money and must have been operating this market using some sort of bot since a human would have realised the error.
So the client they are protecting is surely the type of client that Betfair themselves have introduced the Super Premium Charge to get rid of?
This is the type of thing that should probably make it in to the sequel of “Totally, Crazy Gambling Stories” when that ever happens!
It will certainly rumble on for a while yet, so I am off to grab some more rest over this Christmas break and I will be back in full force from Monday.
Good luck trying to figure this one out!
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