When is a bet not a bet?
That is what the High Court in London, the UK’s highest legal entity, is trying to figure out in a potentially landmark case between James Longley, and Paddy Power.
The facts of the case, which is still being heard, regard a ‘misplaced’ bet – the punter in question wanted to wager £1,300 each way, and that was referred to the bookmaker’s trading team.
But the stake was misheard by the operator that took the call, and so Longley instead ended up wagering £13,000 each way rather than the requested £1,300.
The selection landed, luckily for Longley, and a £286,000 payout was set to be celebrated.
However, Paddy Power’s legal team are contesting that because no agreement was made as to the larger stake, the bet should not stand.
The contention that the presiding judge now needs to determine is whether or not the enhanced bet is the one that should be paid – Longley’s legal team are arguing that it should in the sense that it was placed by Paddy’s trading team prior to the event in question starting.
Mark James, Longley’s legal representative, said:
“Objectively, it’s a bet for £13,000 each-way. That’s how Mr Longley understood it, that’s how the phone operator understood it and that’s the bet that Paddy Power’s trader authorised.
“It would be a very unusual outcome if they were all wrong.”
However, it could be argued that a clear palpable error has taken place, with a stake ten times that requested being processed due to a simply human mistake.
Another matter for debate has been the financial status of Longley, who is said to be wealthy and had a balance of £78,000 in his Paddy Power account. It’s not unusual for him to place £13,000 wagers, so is this a logical defence from the bookmaker?
Normally, betting firms use the ‘clear error’ clause to navigate out of such situations, however a case involving Betfred – which saw one punter triumph in a case worth £1.7 million in unpaid winnings after he profited from a ‘glitch’ in one of the brand’s casino games – could set something of a precedent.
In this case, the bet was accepted with plenty of time to spare – meaning that Paddy Power’s trading team could, in theory, have laid off some or all of the stake in order to protect their financial position.
The Irish operator’s lawyer, Kajetan Wandowicz, claimed that Longley should have known this was simply an error.
“It beggars belief,” he said,
“that a highly intelligent and sophisticated punter, who has only just been told that his requested bet has been approved, would regard that mention of a different sum of money as a counter-offer.”
He contends that Longley knew nothing of the larger stake until later checking the result of his bet on the Paddy Power app. For that reason, no ‘contract’ had been agreed – according to the defence – and so the wager should be settled at the £1,300 each way liability.
For now, the case continues….