Ladbrokes admitted on Monday that a long-standing “technical glitch” in its software for processing online bets may have led customers “to believe that their bets had been accepted, when in fact they had not been placed and no stakes taken”. It also said that “as a gesture of goodwill” it would make payments to a number of its customers whose cancelled bets would have been winners.
However, the firm declined to confirm how many of its clients had been affected, how much money will now be paid out or why it had taken a year to admit to the problem. Ladbrokes’ insistence that stakes were not taken from clients’ accounts could also come under close scrutiny as further details of the glitch come to light.
The Guardian first highlighted a possible problem with Ladbrokes’ bet-handling procedures in early November when it was disclosed that three near-identical cases involving its clients were being considered by the Independent Betting Adjudication Service (IBAS).
In all three, punters attempted to place a bet which was referred to Ladbrokes’ trading department for approval. All the bets were assigned a unique “receipt number” and the balance of the account appeared to have been debited as if the bet had been accepted. The bets were subsequently listed as having been “cancelled” rather than declined or refused.
It was subsequently revealed that Ladbrokes had reached out-of-court settlements with at least four punters who had experienced the same problem and subsequently sued for payment. These included Paul Glynn, who was paid out £1,200 for a £150 bet on a 7‑1 winner in July 2018 which Ladbrokes initially claimed had been “cancelled”.
Ladbrokes’ statement to the Guardian on Monday was the firm’s first public comment on the cases, the earliest known example of which dates from October 2017.
The statement read: “Following a thorough and forensic technical investigation we have identified an issue in the Ladbrokes automated bet referral process whereby, given a very specific and rare set of circumstances, a very small number of customers over a period of time may have been led to believe that their bets had been accepted when in fact they had not been placed and no stakes taken.
“For clarity, no funds were ever deducted from a customer’s account in respect of such proposed bets and this issue impacted both winning and losing bets.”
The statement added that Ladbrokes is now satisfied that it has “identified all the customers who may have been impacted by this issue”, and that “over 50% of impacted bet stakes were successfully resubmitted on the original selections [which suggests that the customer realised their original bet had not been accepted]”.
The firm will now “be individually contacting those impacted customers that did not resubmit their bets, and paying them any winnings due on those bets”.
The statement concluded: “We would like to apologise to those customers that were affected by this issue and reassure them that this technical glitch has now been identified and resolved.”
All three of the cases being considered by IBAS are among those involved in Ladbrokes’ payout, including settlement of a disputed £16 accumulator bet which will mean that one punter is £1,004 better off. However, the bookmaker’s decision also means that IBAS will no longer make a ruling in the cases. As a result, the arbitration service will not be required to take a view on Ladbrokes’ claim that no money was taken from customers’ accounts. The Glynn case, for instance, appeared to offer evidence to the contrary, with his account balance apparently reduced from £332.50 to £2.50 following an attempt to submit a £330 bet.