Punters refunded after ‘bonus abuse’ U-turn

BY JON LEES (Racing Post) THOUSANDS of punters who had Cheltenham Festival winning bets cancelled after being accused of bonus abuse had their money refunded to their accounts on Tuesday and were being allowed to make withdrawals. In

BY JON LEES (Racing Post)

THOUSANDS of punters who had Cheltenham Festival winning bets cancelled after being accused of bonus abuse had their money refunded to their accounts on Tuesday and were being allowed to make withdrawals.

In an admission that they had been too stringent in the interpretation of their own terms and conditions, the operators of the UK sites of 12bet, TLCbet and Fun88 sought to draw a line under the highly embarrassing episode by also offering a “sincere apology”.

TGP Europe, which runs three of the brands’ sites, said 75 per cent of customers affected would have funds restored. The decision will also apply to customers of 138.com, owned by Isle Of Man-based Xela Holdings whose CEO Garth Kimber is also CEO of TGP Holdings, shareholders of TGP Europe.

However, it is understood the accounts of the other 25 per cent who signed up to free bet offers remain under review.

Social media-led backlash

TGP Holdings announced an urgent review on Sunday in the wake of a furious social media response from aggrieved punters who learned last Friday they would not be paid out after the most successful festival ever for punters due to suspected bonus abuse.

On Tuesday a U-turn was completed when many of the same customers were told by email: “TGP Europe the operator of our UK brand, as you may well be aware, had huge issues triggered by their systems picking up a number of incidents including widespread ‘bonus abuse’ by customers opening multiple accounts and claiming bonuses.

“In our attempt to protect the integrity of the players, brand and business, many genuine, and now understandably aggrieved, customers got caught up in the process as we attempted to deal with the problems.

“We sincerely apologise, both for this error and for the time taken to investigate and to correct the position, and your winnings have been paid in full.

“Your account has been reactivated and has had the prior adjustment reversed. Your funds are now available if you wish to commence the withdrawal process.”

Some accounts still closed

A spokesman for TGP Europe said: “We are reopening some accounts, putting money in and putting the customers back to where they were if they hadn’t been put on the not to pay list. Those customers can now withdraw their money.

“This does not apply to all accounts. Just over 75 per cent of accounts will have been reset and people able to withdraw money.”

A number of customers took up offers with more than one of the betting operators involved, which appears to have been initially interpreted as a breach of terms and conditions.

The accounts which remain under review are believed to involve cases where there is evidence of punters using common IP addresses and multiple accounts with single brands, which is more widely accepted in the industry as bonus abuse.

Tom Boyce, a Fun88 account holder who had £827 in winnings withheld due to ‘bonus abuse’, has been told he can withdraw his money.

“I got an email from Fun88 acknowledging they got it wrong and apologising, the money was back in my account and I was free to withdraw,” he said.

“I have logged in, seen the money and requested withdrawal and so far so good. It says it will be approved in 24-48 hours and could then take three to five working days but I will keep checking.

“I filed a complaint at Action Fraud UK yesterday and it was confirmed to me that unless they can find evidence that I have done something wrong it is a criminal offence.

“I have an email acknowledging their mistake which is extra evidence for me to go back to Action Fraud with if I don’t receive my money.”

leeroy@itchy-pig.com

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