Punters ‘lose’ 28/1 dead cert after error in €56m betting blunder
HUNDREDS of punters thought all their Christmases had come together yesterday when a bookie's error meant they were offered hugely inflated odds on a fancied runner at Leopardstown.
The punters had placed their 'in-running' bets with online betting exchange Betfair on Voler La Vedette in the woodiesdiy.com Christmas Hurdle.
But due to a "technical failure" they were offered odds that were too generous, at up to 28/1.
It meant the punters piled on nearly €2m in bets at the 'wrong' odds and were set to win almost €56m before the error was spotted and all the bets were declared void.
The bizarre error has been likened to playing the lottery after the numbers are drawn as punters were able to place money at long odds despite the horse leading the race.
Before the race started, the horse was second favourite to win at odds of 13/8 -- meaning a bet of €8 would win just €13.
Many bookies allow betting during a race -- called betting in running -- and the odds are constantly updated, depending on how the horses are performing.
With a short distance left in the race, Voler Le Vedette looked the clear winner.
However, Betfair now listed the horse's odds at dramatically longer than when it started.
Despite her clear lead, Betfair had Voler Le Vedette at 28/1, meaning every bet of €1 would win €28.
Just under €2m was placed on the horse at these odds, meaning that almost €56m would be paid out.
Betfair uses a matched betting system in which an offer to make a bet can be accepted or 'matched' by another customer, or by the company itself.
It is understood that a sole Betfair client was also left with a liability of nearly €27m on matched bets, before they were declared void.
Betfair's graph for the race yesterday showed that around €25m was offered for bets on the horse at 28/1, even though she was always in contention -- although not all of this was matched.
However, with such vast amounts of cash being offered, Betfair suspended the market in order to investigate.
Many of the exchange's members were meanwhile in a state of shock on the website's forum.
Last night the company said that the incident occurred because of an "obvious technical failure" and that it was voiding all in-running bets.
"Customers betting in-play on this race will have seen that Voler La Vedette was available to back at 29 (28/1) when the in-running market was suspended, and that a considerable sum was matched on the clear winner at that price," a statement said.
"An investigation has revealed that this was due to an obvious technical failure which allowed a customer to exceed their exposure limit.
"In accordance with our terms and conditions, all in-running bets on this race, both win and place, will be made void," it added. "We fully appreciate the dissatisfaction this will cause many customers, and apologise for a very poor customer and betting experience."
Dublin councillor Nial Ring called on the betting company to pay out on bets.
"The punters have taken a hit over Christmas as usual and I am asking Betfair to play fair regarding this error," Mr Ring said.
He said that while customers would have known the odds looked generous, "the fact is that the bets were matched and therefore should be valid".
He added: "If the punter makes an error he is usually punished in an unforgiving way by the bookies, so in this case let's see a bit of Christmas spirit and give the punters a break."
A spokesperson for the Irish Bookmakers Association said"I don't think it's as clear cut as Betfair are making it out."