We’ve known for some time we can beat the bookies in the markets, but now we know we can also beat them in court.
Let me tell you the story of how 888Sport thought they could cancel my winning bet. I fought them, beat them, and a court ordered them to pay the full $1500 + lawyer fees.
I remember perfectly well where I was on 23 June 2017 – Shopping. I got a betting alert on my smartphone: Federer vs Khachanov. The Minimum Profitable Odds for Federer were 1.26, but 888sport offered odds of 8.50.
I didn’t think too much about it, if the bookmakers’ odds are above the Minimum Profitable Odds, you have to bet.
With a discrepancy this large, it was a massively profitable bet. So I bet 100 euros. Just as I saw 888sport accept my bet, I bet another 100 euros. I tried to make a third bet to complete the 300 euros I wanted to wager, but 888sport left it as “pending approval”.
That made me suspect that 888sport would likely cancel my bets, so I made screen captures of the accepted and “pending approval” bets. As far as I could tell, they appeared like any normal bet I had placed with this bookmaker.
I was not wrong, a few minutes later, my bets appeared as cancelled.
Contacting Customer Service
I then contacted 888sport support, I asked why my bets had been cancelled:
On Friday afternoon I placed two bets (attached are screenshots from my betting history) that later turned out to be “void”. This was a bet on Federer’s victory over Khachanov, which I saw being offered at 8.50. Since I saw value in that bet, I decided to place two 100€ bets.
However, I could see that my bets had been cancelled and that you had reimbursed me 100 Euros in one case, and paid 100 Euros in the other, instead of paying the total prize of 850 Euros + 850 Euros.
I am writing to ask you what the reason for the cancellation is, because whenever I make a bet, I cannot cancel it if I have bet on the result that has the least value in your bet, a fact that I find abusive and unfair.
Sometimes the odds vary, which seems logical to me if there are many users betting more money on one odds than another, and not for that reason the bets of those who bet first on the highest odds are cancelled. Many times an event with a 2.5 odds, for example, can end up being less than 2, and that doesn’t mean that the first bets on 2.5 odds are cancelled.
I hope that you will reconsider the cancellation of these bets and credit my account with the amount won, otherwise, I will be forced to take legal action.
And this was the answer:
Thank you for contacting us. My name is Maria L., representative of 888.es Spanish Member Services, and I am happy to assist you today.
I see that although you registered with us some time ago, it has been quite a while since you contacted us, I take this opportunity to thank you for playing and having fun with
us at 888.es.
Miguel, we are sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused you, however, please note that Section A Point 5.c of the Sportsbook Rules, specifies that 888 Spain Plc, at its sole discretion, reserves the right to declare a bet void, in whole or in part, if it is obvious that any of the following circumstances have occurred:
a. The bets have been offered, made and/or accepted due to an error.
b. The bets were placed while the website was having technical problems, from Otherwise, they wouldn’t have been accepted.
c. The results of bets have been influenced.
d. Syndicated bets have been made.
e. The result has been affected by fraudulent actions, both direct and indirectly.
f. A notice has been published in relation to the bet which greatly modifies the odds.
In your case, it has been cancelled due to an evident error in the odds, which is clearly stated in our betting terms and rules; as indicated above.
These terms and rules are accepted with the creation of your account and therefore apply to your account if the bookmakers consider it after making a mistake in the offer of any market.
I am sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused you.
For more information about the Sports Betting Rules, please visit the following link:
Without further ado, I appreciate your understanding in this matter.
Miguel, if there’s anything else I can do for you, don’t hesitate to contact us anytime and we’ll be happy to help you.
So, It’s Legal To Cancel A Winning Bet?
Of course, I didn’t agree. The odds may be more or less wrong. But who defines which are “wrong odds”? Indeed, Federer’s closing odds were 1.085 on pinnacle, but if someone were able to know what odds a certain bet would reach, they would also be able to win a lot of money.
In fact, the result was finally 6-4 7-6(5) for Federer, a very tight victory for such low closing odds. Moreover, a week before he had lost to Tommy Haas after 2 months without playing, and his season started after the 2016 stoppage due to an injury.
In any case, according to Spanish law, in Article 13.4 of the Regulations on Fixed-odds Betting, EHA/3080/2011 (https://www.boe.es/buscar/act.php?id=BOE-A-2011-17964):
Each fixed-odds sports bet made will be linked to the coefficient in force for that bet at the time it is made and will not be affected by subsequent changes to the coefficient.
Time To Lawyer Up
I decided to make good on my threat, there was no choice, and file a lawsuit against 888sport to request the payment of these wagers. In Spain, claims of up to 6,000 euros are resolved through a “verbal trial” which is faster than a conventional trial. I consulted with a lawyer and we got down to business. This lawyer never filed the claim (that’s another story), so in 2019 I contacted Pineda Abogados, with whom I have also filed claims for account limitations to 7 bookmakers. Lawyer Eduardo Andres Guzmán (@EduardoAndresGZ) prepared everything and in a little more than a month, the lawsuit was filed.
In the first phase, 888sport tried to reach an agreement. They offered to pay the 1,500 euros corresponding to the cancelled bets but added conditions on confidentiality, which in case of a breach, obliged me to return the 1,500 euros plus 1,000 euros as a penalty.
Nevertheless, after modifying some clauses of the agreement, and following the advice of my lawyer, I decided to accept and sign it. If you are offered a settlement, then decide to reject it and go to trial, the judge may see bad faith and we could lose.
However, even though I accepted the agreement, 888sport did not respond by providing the signed document, so by the time of the trial, the lawsuit had not been withdrawn and therefore the trial took place.
The Judges’ Ruling
To avoid giving the bookmakers an advantage in future lawsuits in terms of procedural strategy, I will not reproduce the text of the lawsuit, nor the full sentence. But there are some very interesting parts of the judge’s interpretation.
“It is the professionals of the bookmakers (their own bookmakers) who at every moment fix the odds of each bet, and who decide to accept it.
Therefore, in short, the plaintiff maintains that the defendant cannot refuse to pay its winning bets, by unilaterally and unjustifiably annulling them (if there was any error on its part, it cannot be passed on to the consumer) and based on such an alleged term that is unfair and therefore null and void, as challenged by the plaintiff, under the Law on General Terms and Conditions of Business (the “rule in question”, is of adhesion) and the General Law of Consumers and Users, requesting in conclusion that the claim be ordered to pay the above-mentioned 750 for each bet, with its legal interests”.
“The reasons why the defendant pretends not to pay such bets, can be qualified as absurd, because they are general principles of our common civil law, for the contractual obligations, that any contract obliges the fulfilment of the respective contractual obligations assumed in the same with the force of law, is strictly forbidden, that the fulfilment of the contracts can be left to the discretion of one of the contracting parties, which is what the defendant pretends, when it also pretends to unilaterally annul two perfectly valid bets that oblige it, [. …] only after it knows, or has greater probabilistic or statistical evidence, that it has made a bad deal”.
“(the defendant) will have to pay for it, according to that odds to the winning user, since it is certainly not “any error”, nor excusable, nor inexcusable, nor of any type, but the confirmation by her part, that it has been her, the company, who has made “a bad bet”, but that is precisely what games of chance consist of, such is their legal nature”.
“When a game of chance is lost, it is not that the gambler “has made a mistake” (the mistake, the error, is the erroneous configuration of an already existing fact, on the contrary, in what has not yet happened, there is no room for “mistakes”, but only to be right or not to be right, in the judgement of the prognosis) but that it did not succeed in its bet, and simply, it is necessary to assume the result, since to assume it, as well as to assume the factor of own risk that entails the own bet, is precisely the reciprocal contractual obligation, in this type of contracts. It could be compared to how to win or lose when investing in the stock market”.
“Thus, as the plaintiff explained in the e-mail sent to the defendant, it is lawful for the bookmaker to fluctuate up and down the odds it attributes to a given bet, as long as the random event on which it depends does not occur. What cannot be done is to “retract” (cancel) a posteriori – just as the client cannot do it, since that is precisely what reciprocity in the assumption of risk in games of chance consists of – a user’s bet, which she accepted and validated, and therefore, for which she made the contract at that moment.”
“… we cannot but conclude, applying all of the above, that what must really seem evident to the defendant, in practice, is that her calculations of probabilities failed (which, we have already distinguished above, is no error). But that, evidently, is his problem, as it would be for any gambler in the best of cases, while in the worst of them, it could also be the hypothesis that the defendant was doing it consciously to attract gamblers, even if they were betting at such high odds, since she reserves the right to cancel arbitrarily the profitable bets”.
“The Court finds, that by granting the application in full […] I must and I order the defendant to pay the applicant the sum of EUR 1500”.
Finally, in July 2020, I was able to collect my bets placed three years earlier.
The judges’ ruling suggests a belief that:
– The annulment of the bet was an abuse
– The risks should be split between both the bookmaker and the bettor
– Bookmakers cannot take unilateral decisions on the application of their rules
– If there was an error on the bookmakers part, it cannot be passed on to the consumer
Three years, two lawyers and one court case later; I collected the full amount owed to me by 888 sports.
With help from Eduardo and a willingness to fight back and not let 888Sport take advantage of me, I got to enjoy a small victory against the bookmakers.
With a lower amount, perhaps it wouldn’t have been worth the time and effort. But going forward we know what power we have, the precedent has been set, and I will continue to push back against improper bookmaker activity.