Saturday, 16 March 2019

UK Gambling Commission Defends Its Action Over BetBright Closure

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The UK Gambling Commission has defends its action over the closure of bookmaker BetBright.

The Irish online betting site announced its closure last week following its buyout from 888 Holdings. In the same announcement, BetBright revealed it would cease operations immediately and void bets due to be settled after March 5. BetBright’s announcement sparked a backlash from the site’s 35,000 customers, leading the Gambling Commission to launch an investigation into the site’s closure.

Earlier this week, the Commission released a statement announcing it was “content” with BetBright’s decision and disclosed that the Irish firm had informed the Commission that it would have gone into liquidation if 888 Holdings hadn’t bought it out. However, the Commission has now issued a statement defending its decision regarding BetBright’s closure following an outpour of new complaints.

On Thursday (March 14), a spokesperson for the Commission disclosed that the organisation believes that some of the proceeds from the £15 million sale to 888 Holdings had been used to return deposits and wagers to customers.

The spokesperson said: “We’ve been informed that the money has formed part of the assets used to settle outstanding liabilities including the refunding of stakes and any other customer accounts. We do not have the powers to insist that an operator stays in business until all the results of ante-post bets have come in.

“During our inquiries, the operator highlighted the very real possibility of going into insolvent liquidation if it remained open. This would have resulted in customers receiving no winnings and no refunds on stakes which had been placed. This was a significant risk for BetBright’s customers and there we consider that the return of stakes, as part of an orderly closure of the business, is the best option available for the vast majority of customers in what is an unusual and difficult situation.”

They added: “It is also worth noting that trading while insolvent can result in a criminal offence.”

What BetBright Says

Meanwhile, former BetBright Chairman Rich Ricci, who has been criticised for his handling of the company, called the last week “difficult” for all involved in the site’s closure. In an interview with ITV Racing this week, Ricci reflected on the last week, saying: “No one feels good about it.

“It happens in business. People have lost their jobs. People have lost money. There is no profit gained by anyone else. It’s just a difficult situation and we’re just trying to do the best for everyone. We’ll see what happens.”