British sports betting giant bet365 finds itself under the microscope after revelations from a former employee.
Privately-owned bet365 is one of the biggest gambling companies in the world. Its pre-tax profits rose 28% in 2018 to £660.6 million, a gargantuan sum stemming from £52 billion worth of wagers. Denise Coates, bet365’s co-founder, receive much negative press when she paid herself £265 million in 2018. Now the company is in the headlines for all the wrong reasons after allegations from one of its former employees.
The company legally operates an online sportsbook in Australia but its online casino product is banned. It is the sports betting side of bet365 that finds itself in hot water.
James Poppleton worked as a customer account supervisors for bet365 at its Darwin headquarters. Poppleton decided to turn whistleblower after saying “what I know is a burden on my conscience.” The former bet365 employee claims the company targets people who win and exploits losing punters.
Most damning is Poppleton’s claims that bet365 uses a computer programme to assign a risk rating to its customers. This system flags big winners and losers, although it isn’t in place to prevent irresponsible gambling.
“Your data tells them how many bets you’ve place, what sport you’ve put it on, your average bet, your total turnover, and your win or loss ratio to the company. If you win, the algorithm kicks in and stops you from being able to bet any significant amount of money.”
While bet365 denies any wrongdoing, the practise is common in the sports betting world. Customers who have been subjected to this practise are known in the industry as “being restricted” or “limited”.
ABC 7:30 spoke to a prominent Australian poker player who had seen his bet365 account restricted. Daniel Laidlaw has won more than US$1.5 million from online poker tournaments and live events. He regularly bets on sports as a hobby and used to use bet365 until earlier this year.
“When I tried to place my usual sized bets, it was apparent I could only bet to win an amount in the range of $5 to $10 when previously I could bet to win amounts between $1,000 and $5,000.”
The popular Aussie claims he has repeatedly tried to discover why his bet365 account is limited but they won’t say.
“If you’re not allowed to win and you’re going to be restricted if you’re winning, at least tell people that,” said Laidlaw.
Laidlaw’s risk rating is 0.0025 according to documentation obtained by ABC. Poppleton said this a very high risk rating, one of the highest assigned by the company.
Furthermore, Poppleton said bet365’s algorithm works in a way that is the opposite of responsible gambling practises. Apparently, customers are able to bet larger amounts while they are net losers. Even winners are allowed to make larger bets than usual if they start losing.
Bet365 has declined offers of an interview from various news outlets, instead opting to give a broad statement denying any wrongdoing. The statement included the passage, “our service is provided in accordance with its published terms and conditions and all applicable laws and regulations.”
Delaying telephone bets is another worrying tactic revealed by Poppleton. He claims a delay of 1-3 seconds occurred between a bet being placed and when it is accepted. Poppleton claims this is to give bet365 enough time to reject the bet, particularly in fast-moving sports.
A three-second delay may not seem substantial but it is significant in fast-paced sports. Games such as football, cricket, and tennis change in an instant causing odds to fluctuate. Any delay gives bet365 an advantage. The added delay is long enough to give bet365 an advantage without the punter realising what’s happening.
Bet365 denies creating an intentional delay in its telephone betting service. “bet365 has never used any form of delay in its telephone in-play betting service in Australia.” It added “or telephone system does not have any such functionality.”
ABC revealed a screenshot of a bet365 customer account with the words “delay added” in the notes, suggesting bet365 does, or at least had, the ability to delay specific customers’ telephone bets.
Poppleton is worried bet365 will discredit his claims by saying he is a disgruntled former employee. However, Poppleton said this is not the case and that he is shedding light on the company’s shady practises as he is ashamed of his time working for them.
“I think punters, when they find out, will be angry. Aussie punters think they’re getting a fair go. Getting a fair game. A fair bet. And they’re not.”