4 online gambling sites under investigation
Calvin Ayre: The Isle of Man-based parent company of online gambling operators 12bet, 138.com, Fun88 and TLCBet is denying that the sites have unjustly closed accounts and refused to pay winning wagers on this year’s Cheltenham racing festival.
On Friday, angry customers of the aforementioned sites reported receiving emails saying their accounts had breached the sites’ terms and conditions regarding bonus abuse and fraudulent activity. Bettors were told that their winnings had been cancelled and that their deposits would be refunded, after which the customers’ accounts would be closed.
A growing number of customers have taken to social media to refute the accusation that they’d engaged in any unauthorized activity. The bettors claimed they’d simply taken advantage of the sties’ free bet offers during the Cheltenham festival and that their requests to withdraw their winnings had been stalled long before they received emails from the sites.
There are similarities in the emails sent out to customers from all four firms.
The emails said: “In the event that we suspect that you or any other Player is abusing or attempting to abuse a bonus or other promotion, or is likely to benefit through such abuse we may block, deny, suspend, withhold or cancel the account of any such Player, including Your Account if we determine that you are involved in such.”
Andrew Carr, 46, had accounts with all four companies with balances totalling £2,600.
After more than a week of trying to withdraw the funds and being fobbed off by customers services, Carr received emails from all four bookmakers today between 11am and midday informing him the fraud team had closed his accounts and he was not entitled to his winnings.
Speaking to Mirror Sport, Carr said: “I tried to withdraw money from my accounts after Cheltenham and they said it would take three to five days to process.
“Then this morning (Friday) between 11 and 12 I received emails from all four saying they were closing my accounts because of bonus abuse, which isn’t true.
“They said they’ll send the deposit back but I’ve had nothing.”
He added: “I should have had the money ages ago. I’ve been stressed all week getting up at four or five in the morning expecting to see the money in my bank and it not being there.
“I’ve been going to Cheltenham since 1990 and this was my best ever festival for betting. Now it’s been ruined.
“I’m completely numb. They’ve taken everyone for a monkey. This shouldn’t happen with UK bookmakers.”
Carr also said he spoke with representatives from Fun88 and 12bet on web chats, but claims those chats were closed down when he asked to withdraw money from his account.
Furious customers vented their anger on Twitter after claiming to have been ignored by the bookmakers, three of whom sponsor Premier League clubs.
Watford have 138 on their shirts, West Brom have TLCbet on theirs and Swansea have a deal with 12bet.
On Saturday, Garth Kimber, CEO of TGP Holdings Ltd, the parent company of the four gambling sites, was quoted on ‘Iomtoday‘ defending the sites’ actions. Kimber said the company had “processed a refund of deposits, voided all bets (winning and losing) and closed” all accounts that the company’s investigation had identified as being in breach of their T&C’s.
Kimber said the “relevant authorities” had been informed of the company’s concerns and TGP was “in the process of sharing full details of the activities found to have taken place.” Kimber said TGP “regrets the time taken and effects on genuine players but is committed to upholding both our own and the industry’s integrity.”
The four betting sites hold UK Gambling Commission licenses issued to TGP Europe Ltd. The sites are also licensed by the Isle of Man Gambling Supervision Commission, which issued a statement on Friday saying it was “aware of the matter” but said it was standard policy not to comment on regulatory and compliance matters involving its licensees.
Kimber’s statement noted that the TGP sites had experienced “unprecedented volumes and unusual activities” during the Cheltenham festival. This year’ festival was deemed one of the most painful for UK bookmakers after a raft of favorites lived up to their reputations, with total bookie losses believed to be in excess of £60m.
The Isle of Man’s eGaming regulator is investigating after four online bookmakers were accused of closing accounts and voiding bets.
Police say they received a large number of complaints after island-based 138.com, 12Bet, Fun88.co.uk and TLC Bet sent emails to customers suggesting they have abused the sites’ promotions systems in relation to deals offered during the Cheltenham Festival.
The island’s Gambling Supervision Commission confirmed it is investigating.
It said it is in dialogue with the licensees’ representatives: ‘When we become aware of a complaint about fairness we gather information from customers and from the licensee. We then examine the information and form a conclusion. This two-stage process can take some time.
12Bet, Fun88 and TLC Bet have pledged to review all circumstances, promised to pay winnings where bets have been incorrectly disallowed, and have requested a thorough report from operator and licensee TGP Holdings. 138.com is licensed with Xela Holdings.
It is understood that today (Tuesday) some people regained access to their accounts after being refused access to funds since the festival took place.
Garth Kimber, chief executive officer of TGP Holdings Ltd and Xela Holdings, said: ‘Following unprecedented volumes and unusual activities during the Cheltenham racing festival the company has followed our regulator approved procedures and terms and conditions and reviewed activity deemed suspicious.
‘All payments were processed for accounts not deemed to be under investigation and additionally all payments have now been processed for those accounts reviewed and found not to have been in breach of our terms and conditions. For those accounts where the terms and conditions have been breached, account holders have been informed, the company has processed a refund of deposits, voided all bets (winning and losing) and closed the accounts.
‘The authorities were informed of our concerns and subsequent investigation. The company regrets the time taken and effects on genuine players but is committed to upholding both our own and the industry’s integrity.’
On Monday, police in the Isle of Man directed people to lodge complaints with Action Fraud at www.actionfraud.police.uk
And on Tuesday, via the Isle of Man Constabulary Facebook page, police confirmed they had been in touch with TGP Europe over the allegations.
A statement read: ‘The Isle of Man Constabulary have been in contact with TGP Europe Limited in respect of recent complaints we have received from account holders of on-line betting accounts which fall under the TGP Europe Limited umbrella.
‘Updates regarding accounts and monies outstanding will be given to account holders directly by the company in due course.
‘Due diligence has been followed according to the regulator and at this time we do not consider there to be any criminal investigation required.
‘If monies are not returned and people still believe they have been subject of crime they should re-contact the Isle of Man Constabulary through the normal channels.’