London’s High Court has agreed to hear the case of a wealthy bettor who claims Paddy Power owes him £286,000 after the stakes of his bet were misheard.
In September 2019, James Longley, 44, called Paddy Power’s telephone betting service with the intention of placing a $1,300 each-way bet on a horse called “Redemptive” at Wolverhampton Racecourse.
The operator sought authority for the stake because of its size, but mistakenly relayed it to an authorizing trader as £13,000 each way, £26,000 in total.
Longley accepted the bet, claiming he understood it as “a counter-offer” from Paddy Power. This should have entitled him to a £286,000 payout when Redemptive romped home in first place, but Longley says the bookmaker is welching on the bet.
The bookmaker refused to pay out on the larger stake, citing an “error” clause in its terms and conditions.
Paddy Power’s lawyer Kajetan Wandowicz argued that, based on context and Longley’s reaction, the plaintiff had not in fact noticed the mention of a larger stake. He claimed Longley only realized the difference when he later checked an app on his phone.
This meant the parties had been at cross purposes and so no valid contract had been agreed, Wandowicz said.
“It beggars belief, that a highly intelligent and sophisticated punter [bettor] 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,” Wandowicz added.
Longley’s lawyer, Mark James, said that for most people a sudden tenfold increase in stakes would be unheard of, but his client’s wealth and gambling habits made it perfectly plausible.
Longley is described by The Sun newspaper as a “self-made multimillionaire” who made his fortune through the sale of his utility bills company Utility Bidder in 2018.
James said it seemed the Paddy Power trader had been eager to accept the bet because he thought Longley was chasing his losses. The plaintiff had already lost £19,000 to Paddy Power that day, from an opening balance of £78,000.
“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 authorized. It would be a very unusual outcome if they were all wrong,” James said.
“They [bookmakers] can lay off their bets, make a profit on the deal, and then tell the bettor, ‘We’re keeping our winnings, but you can’t have yours’,” he added.
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