Betting exchange company, Matchbook, has seen its UK gambling licence suspended on a temporary basis by the United Kingdom Gambling Commission. At the time of writing, there is no stated reason for the suspension, with the company merely posting a statement to their website saying that they are closed for business when it comes to the casino and betting side of its operation. The statement reveals that the suspension started at 23:59 last night.
A legal judgement involving Eurasia Sports, a Matchbook subsidiary, is being speculated upon as the reason for the suspension in some quarters. It’s tricky to know what it means for customers in the long-term, though in the short-term it will not be able to take new bets. Current wagers will be settled as normal, whilst punters are able to access their accounts in order to withdraw any funds that they have in there.
Temporary Suspension Put in Place
The first thing that happened to indicate to most people that there was a problem with Matchbook occurred when customers loaded up the website and were greeted with an announcement confirming that the UKGC had issued them with a temporary suspension. The suspension was issued to the operating licence of Triplebet Limited, the parent company of Matchbook as well as a number of other online betting sites.
The statement also let customers know that any open positions that they had would go on as normal, but that new bets would not be taken in either the casino or via the sportsbook. Punters were allowed to login to their accounts in order to withdraw funds if they wished to, whilst contact details for Matchbook’s customer service team were also included in the message. The key thing, perhaps, is that Matchbook are looking for a ‘path forward’ with the Gambling Commission.
Why Matchbook Has Been Suspended
Perhaps the title for this section of the piece should be ‘Why Has Matchbook Been Suspended?’, given that no one really knows for sure why this has happened. The UKGC’s own website is currently still listing Triplebet Limited has being an ‘Active’ company, further muddying the waters. It is unusual for the Gambling Commission to suspend a licence unless they have good reason for doing so, which is likely to come out in the next few days or weeks.
The lack of an outright explanation from the UKGC has led many within the gambling industry to speculate about what has happened, with some looking towards the case of Eurasia Sports. That company had a licence for the website 3et.com, which was issued by the Alderney Gambling Control Commission. It offered ‘high-value customers’ the opportunity to engage in what it referred to as ‘unrestricted betting’, but there was a legal judgement against it last month.
Eurasia Sports is a subsidiary of Matchbook, which was taken to court by a group of high-rolling clients that were recruited to bet with the company by an Irish firm called Xanadu Consultancy. They brought in the high-rollers by promising them that they could bet large amounts quickly, which is something that is not usually possible. The high-rollers were mostly from Peru and brought in to spend money with the betting firm.
No Direct Link
There is no suggestion that Xanadu Consultancy were in any way linked to the deception perpetrated by Eurasia Sports, instead merely serving as a conduit between the betting site and the high-rollers. The judge in the case felt that Eurasia Sports offered a ‘brokerage product’, promising the high-rollers the ability to place large bets that Matchbook wouldn’t be able to accommodate. Yet it’s possible that the UKGC has noticed something problematic.
Andrew Pantling from Triplebet Limited travelled with Paul McGuinness of Xanadu Consultancy to Peru in September of 2014. They were visiting Juan Omar Machi Aguad in Atlantic City Casino, Lima, which he owned. Aguad hoped to be able to place bets worth $500,000 on American football, leading to Eurasia Sports offering him $1 million in credit. They did so without asking him for any security, completing the paperwork to confirm the credit. He promptly lost all $1 million, losing another $500,000 in credit the following day. Aguad said that a business colleague could transfer half a million dollars, but wanted a credit account of his own.
This was offered to the colleague, which Aguad used to bet and lose another $500,000. He told Eurasia Sports that he would transfer $375,000, asking them to give him the same amount in credit. They granted this wish, with Aguad once more betting and losing the full amount. Jose Roberto de Romana Letts was appointed by Eurasia Sports to introduce new South American customers to the service, who he provided security for in the form a cheque for $10 million.
Might Eurasia Sports Be the Reason for the Suspension?
The security offered to Eurasia Sports and their parent company Triplebet Limited by the $10 million cheque meant that more South American clients were able to open accounts of their own. When the cheque was chased, however, it was not honoured and Eurasia Sports was forced to take numerous defendants to court in an attempt to claim the money owed. The betting company won the judgement against the punters that had taken out credit with them.
We know from previous cases that the Gambling Commission does not react well to companies that don’t have solid financial practices, issuing fines and suspensions to those that do not know where money they’re accepting has come from. Unsecured credit of up to $1 million would almost certainly come under such scrutiny, so it’s likely to be the case that Matchbook has been caught up in the misdeeds of another Triplebet Limited company.