Interview: 666Bet customers demand return of funds

Interview: 666Bet customers demand return of funds

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

666Bet was meant to be the new kid on the block. An energetic rising star of the UK gaming scene that could even challenge some of the industry’s giants.

That was the plan for 666Bet just a year ago, as it launched in time for the big money up for grabs at the FIFA World Cup, made headlines by offering 1966-1 on an England tournament win in Brazil and signed up English Premier League football manager Harry Redknapp to promote the brand. Driving the relentless surge was chief executive Barry Martin, who talked of “a very aggressive but creative plan over the next 24 months which should see 666Bet.com become a household brand”.

Just six months after the end of the World Cup, Martin was gone. Now, with 666Bet stripped of its UK licence and out-of-pocket customers demanding their money back, Martin’s Linkedin profile curiously describes his former position at 666Bet as merely ‘sales consultant’.

Those customers are becoming more and more vocal as the weeks go by, with it now almost a month since problems became apparent. On March 20, the Gambling Commissions of the UK and Alderney suspended the licences of parent company Metro Play Ltd, with the UK saying that it “suspects that Metro Play Limited is unsuitable to carry on the licensed activities”.

666Bet customers unsure of the company’s future were met with a homepage that initially apologised for “maintenance” but soon the company’s social media accounts were admitting there was a licensing problem and that customers could not access their accounts.

A week later, 666Bet director Paul Bell was arrested in connection with a £21m (€29.2m/$31m) fraud investigation, although the company stated that the matter was not related to 666Bet itself.

It seems that many hundreds of customers have backed the wrong horse by choosing to deposit money with 666Bet, but they are actively seeking resolution of the issue through a series of campaigns, including a petition in which almost 200 people have demanded that their money be refunded.

One customer backing the petition is Mike Langdon, who told TotallyGaming.com that he has more than £4,000 locked in his account, and that he had encountered problems as early as March 15 – a week before the licence was revoked.

“I joined 666Bet in July last year, soon after they started, after I saw a press advert," Langdon said. "The service they offered was very good. They had lots of sports markets to bet on and the odds they offered were competitive.

“Since March I have sent lots of emails to 666Bet and Metro Play (parent company) and no response at all.”

Langdon has approached both the UK and Alderney Gambling Commission about the issue, but feels that neither have offered satisfactory help. 666Bet assumed a Continuation Licence in the UK through its Alderney connection following regulatory changes last November.

Alderney told him to “be patient” and wait for further information from 666Bet, while the UK Gambling Commission has made it clear that its role is not to adjudicate in customer care matters and also that it cannot keep a constant check on companies’ financial positions.

The UK Gambling Commission said last month that while the licence is suspended, “Metro Play is authorised to settle any outstanding winning bets and return any outstanding balances to customers on request – and we expect them to do so”.

“What I have learned from this is the Gambling Commission are not helping the punter at all and are toothless," Langdon said. “I fully support the petition as it can only raise the profile of our campaign to get our money back.

“A successful outcome would be the full return of our monies with compensation for the huge distress.”

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