Student vs BET365 – This woman won £1 million from a stake of £25,000 – or did she?!

My old dad used to say ‘get everything in writing’ with any agreement, as you never know when it will be needed. No more so than when dealing with bookies.

You may be aware of the ongoing saga of the woman who placed bets totalling £25,000 and won £1 million. Yes, you read that correctly.

However as is usual with bookies and insurance companies, when you win big or make a claim, they look to pick holes in your bet/policy. If you lose then, of course, nothing is said apart from ‘hard luck’ and ‘take a free weekend away on us as a valued serial losing client’.

The long-running case of Megan McCann (19), a student from Northern Ireland who is suing the online bookmaker Bet365 for £1,009,793 in unpaid winnings, will finally reach a court room this month after a date was set  for a full-day hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice in Belfast.

I thinks it’s clearly obvious this money came from a third party; I mean, what 19-year-old student has £25k knocking around in their student bedsit!? Hardly likely they have £25 quid left after a few nights out at the student union.

Anyway, McCann placed £24,960 (nice if you’ve got it!) on 12 horses running in four races, at Bath, Kempton and Naas, on the evening of 22 June 2016.

The bets – a combined total of 960 £13 each-way “Lucky 15” – were accepted by Bet365 and proved highly successful, producing a return of £984,833. More importantly, I wager she must have been late for lectures after placing that lot!

When the bet was successful, Bet365 predictably investigated and subsequently refused to pay McCann’s winnings, claiming that her stake for the bet was provided by a ‘third party’, in contravention of the firm’s terms and conditions (T&Cs). To add insult to injury they also refused to return her initial stake!

Now the question is: how did they know it was from a third party? Well that bit I’m unclear about, but maybe because of the ‘out of character’ size of the bet, or maybe by her own omission? If the latter was the case, then if she never admitted to using third party funds it would have been her word against theirs. Not easy to prove if you plan it right.

My major gripe with all this is why on earth do bookies enter into a contract, in this case a ‘bet’, and then welsh on the deal if successful? Far better to check with their head office staff and then refuse if they so wish. The punter would then know where they stand and can look to find another layer. Nothing worse than placing a bet and thinking it’s on, and then for bookies refusing to payout.

McCann has now successfully instructed Andrew Montague, a solicitor well-known for his expertise in gambling-related cases, to sue Bet365 for her total payout of £1,009,793. Montague’s most famous victory in the past was won on behalf of the legendary Irish gambler Barney Curley, who successfully challenged a ruling by Gibraltar’s gambling regulator that could withhold a payout of €852,000 [£765,000] following a betting coup in January 2010.

If or when the case reaches a full hearing its going to be very interesting to see the outcome. For the sake of us punters and indeed credibility of online bookies, ‘We’ the punter have to win. However, I really cant see any positive outcome other than McCann receiving her stake bet. I’m sure the bookies will settle for that.

Obviously if its in the T&Cs that punters can’t bet with third-party money, then they have it covered. But on that basis, I and millions of others are going to have to tell our grannies to give back the winnings from the Grand National.

Why? Well, staking rigidly to the rules its third party money isn’t it? After all, it was my gran that gave me the £2 to place on Bobbyjo in 1999.

However, I have a cunning plan – more cunning than Baldrick’s top cunning plan to avoid paying the bookies back. If Mr Coral comes knocking at the door, I’m going to say that on the day in question my Nan had lost her week’s pension on a game of three card brag, and being a generous grandson I took pity on her and gave her a loan (sorry, not a loan – a gift) that I didn’t want back. That way I’m sure she will get to keep her £20 winnings – don’t tell anyone, though, and I will see you alright!!

The moral? Be careful what you say to them there bookies! There is enough people out there willing to hang you without you doing it to yourself!

And as for the recent Gambling Awareness week? Don’t make me laugh!

What next? Let the mouse look after the cheese week!

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