BetBright Takeover Was Difficult but Necessary Concludes UKGC

The recent deal between 888 Holdings and BetBright might have upset punters but the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) is happy with how it played out.

BetBright Rich Ricci

BetBright chairman Rich Ricci has said the 888 takeover was unfortunate but necessary, something the UKGC agrees with. (Image: Gloucestershire Live)

Seemingly coming out of the blue, 888’s £15 million takeover of the Irish sports betting site saw some customers left out of pocket. As the story broke on March 4, BetBright users were told their ante-post bets had been cancelled.

Even though a full refund was promised, those with ante-post wagers on the Cheltenham Festival were incensed.

Confusion Causes BetBright Backlash

Because ante-post bets are placed well in advance of an event, the odds are often better. Although customers don’t receive a refund in the event of a last-minute withdrawal, these wagers remain popular with horseracing fans.

Following the news that ante-post bets were void, many customers aired their complaints via social media. To clarify the situation, 888 explained that it had only bought the BetBright site from its owner, Dedsert, and not any betting liabilities.

However, as a “gesture of goodwill,” the new owner promised to keep all ante-post Cheltenham Festival bets alive. The move helped quell any immediate discontent but complaints prompted the UKGC to review the takeover.

Assessing the deal and any subsequent action taken by 888 and BetBright, the gaming regulator said everything was in order. Suggesting all parties made the best of a bad situation, the UKGC concluded no further action was necessary.

“This would have resulted in customers receiving no winnings and no refunds on stakes which had been placed. This was a significant risk for BetBright’s customers and therefore we are content that the return of stakes, as part of an orderly closure of the business, is the best option available for the vast majority of customers in what is an unusual and difficult situation,” reads the UKGC’s March 13 statement.

888 will now look to utilise BetBright’s technology as it builds on a successful 2018.

UKGC Happy Intentions Were Honourable

For BetBright, chairman Rich Ricci told ITV Racing that it had been a difficult time for all involved.

“It happens in business. People have lost their jobs. People have lost money. There is no profit gained by anyone else. It’s just a difficult situation and we’re just trying to do the best for everyone,” Ricci said on the opening day of Cheltenham.

Although the UK remains a stronghold for gaming operators, strict regulations and the ongoing push for higher standards has meant only the strong survive.

This evolution has led to multiple mergers and takeovers in recent years, something that’s likely to continue in the future. However, for those loyal to BetBright, Ricci has said the only thing we can do is wait and “see what happens.”

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