Betfair has launched a rescue package for Sporting Options customers facing the loss of their money as a result of the betting exchange firm going into administration yesterday.
Betfair says it hopes 5,000 of the 5,300 Sporting Options customers affected could be compensated in full in the next few days.
The package has been agreed with Sporting Options administrators Menzies Corporate Restructuring and approved by Betfair’s board of directors.
“Our rescue package reflects Betfair’s commitment to the betting exchange punter and to the nascent betting exchange industry. It is a testament to Betfair’s financial strength that we are in a position to be able to do this,” said Stephen Hill, Betfair’s chief executive.
“The demise of Sporting Options shows why we urgently need the new Gambling Bill, not only to regulate online bookmakers but also to update regulation for the wider betting industry so that all punters are properly protected.”
Hill stressed that customers’ funds at Betfair are held in a separate, ring-fenced account which is audited by KPMG.
“Protecting customers’ funds should be a condition of a bookmaker’s licence and further, the new Gambling Commission should have the power to conduct spot-check audits of online and bricks-and-mortar bookmakers to ensure this is the case,” he went on.
“The confidence our customers have in the security of their deposits with Betfair has helped us to become the global leader in our field.
“We very much welcome Sporting Options customers to Betfair and we look forward to helping as many of them as possible. We hope we have gone some way in restoring their confidence in the betting exchange industry.”
Another leading betting exchange, Betdaq, had also considered making good losses that could be incurred by Sporting Options customers.
“We had discussions with the administrators about undertaking a similar gesture but it quickly became clear that an alternative package was in place,” said Betdaq’s Rob Hartnett.
“The prompt action of Betfair and Betdaq in expelling Sporting Options from BETA, the Betting Exchange Trade Association, is indicative of our intent to protect our hard-earned reputations as high-quality, low-margin alternatives to the traditional betting sector.”
Administrators Menzies Corporate Restructuring were unable to give any further information.
“No-one is available for comment at the moment. I can only redirect you to the information on the website,” said a spokesperson.
All betting activities on the Sporting Options website were suspended yesterday.
In a notice on the site from the administrators, there was no mention of the position as regards funds held by the company on behalf of punters who bet via the exchange, the third-biggest behind Betfair and Betdaq.