Bookmaking losses at Cheltenham are being exacerbated by a growing PR furore
Last month's Cheltenham horse racing festival was bad for bookies, but in some cases their situation is being worsened by wide newspaper and Twitter publicity on their questionable seizure of winnings from online punters.
Mainstream newspapers across the British Isles have taken up the story after interviewing a number of angry online gamblers who won thousands of pounds through offers from Isle of Man and UK licensed online bookmakers 138.com, 12Bet and Fun88.co.uk, only to be accused of general and suspected bonus abuse and told their accounts had been closed.
Exacerbating the situation, some players claim that when they asked call centres for copies of the T&Cs relating to the promotions that had attracted them, they were told that these were no longer available.
Emails to aggrieved players advise them that the T&Cs include a provision that the bookmaker may "block, deny, suspend, withhold or cancel the account of any such player, including your account" if the bookmaker suspects 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."
Players report that no proof or details of the alleged abuse were given, and that they were informed that their deposits would be returned but their winnings confiscated and their accounts closed.
Although asked for comment by various newspapers, there was no evidence of a response from the online bookies when InfoPowa went to press Saturday morning.
Newspaper reports claim that 2Bet, TLCBet and Fun88.co.uk are registered with the UK Gambling Commission under the same licensee, TGP Europe. The Isle of Man licensing authority lists the sites under the same TGP Limited title.
Media reports immediately following the Cheltenham races estimated that bookmaking firms took a bath on the week-long festival as punters made the right bets, with losses for bookmakers topping GBP 60 million.
Isle of Man Today contacted the Isle of Man offices of TGP but "no one was available" and is still awaiting a response. The newspaper also attempted unsuccessfully to contact Garth Kimber, a former Isle of Man head of e-gaming who is currently head of Xela Holdings Limited – the license holder for 138.com.
Approached for comment, the Isle of Man's Gambling Supervision Commission issued a short statement late Friday which read:
"I can confirm that the Gambling Supervision Commission is aware of the matter, however it is standard policy for the Gambling Supervision Commission not to comment on regulatory or compliance matters relating to its licensed operators."
Online Casino News Courtesy of Infopowa