22 septembre 2009

Online Betting: How To Rule Conflicting Results?

One of the difficulties with betting is to anticipate the numerous possibilities of outcome, even more so with online betting. Even in the case of binary results (when the betting options as well as the outcome are either true or false), there are chances that sometimes one cannot provide a clear result to the event stated in the betting rule. Many scenarios are possible: the event does not take place, or does take place on a different date, or terminates in a way that the result cannot be clearly defined, or terminates without any official result, etc. Moreover the real hurdle is when the result is perceived differently by the stakeholders, or when the official result is wrong and adjusted by a second official a few hours or days after the initial result. How do you cope with claims, disputes and requests for refund or compensation?


Take the PMU (the company marketing and totalizing bets on horse races in France) for example. Recently, at the Hong Kong Jockey-Club race that took place on 15 August in Deauville, the official result (6-17-9-16-1) triggered a number of winnings and the corresponding payments were made before the commissioners realised that there was an error and announced a second updated result (6-17-16-9-1). The latter triggered another series of winnings and payments.

One can easily imagine the consequent headache. It's very difficult to get the money back from the first group of winners who were paid too much by error. Otherwise, in case a stakeholder has been paid less based on the first result than he should have with the second, you probably want to pay him the difference. That's what the French PMU decided to do. At least for those players who kept their tickets! As for the others who got rid of there tickets too soon, they have no evidence that they placed the right bet.

As far as we are informed the PMU also decided to pay winners based on the first (wrong) result, even after the second result was announced! A nice gesture. Is it a happy end though?
Not sure as race tracks are typically pool games. In other words, the winnings are taken out of one single pool including all the stakes and shared among the winners. When stakeholders get paid even though they placed the wrong bet, the true winners are clearly penalised as they will be paid less. Are they going to complain or even take legal action against PMU? Let's wait and see.

Now, the scenario is a bit different for online gamers. There is always a numeric record for each individual stake including the stakeholder's identity. Is PMU going to get the money back from people who took a stake online and got paid based on the first (wrong) result? While it is unlikely to happen, it would be legitimate for the true winners, whether they played online or offline, to claim larger winnings. Besides, early online winners based on the first (wrong) result may ask to be treated equally with offline early winners who didn't have to give their winnings back.

While PMU bets are abitrated by official commissioners, conflicting results are even more difficult to deal with in case of self arbitrated bets. Therefore, BETCoffee will handle contingencies in the most simple way. Whenever direct opponents within a betting rule set a different outcome for that rule, their stakes are automatically void and their accounts are refunded. The same happens when one of the opponents doesn't provide any result within 7 days after the rule has ended.

This should not become a common practice though. To make sure that void stakes remain exceptional, any BETCoffee user can submit a report of abuse if he/she believes that his/her opponent intentionally entered an incorrect outcome. We'll verify the report and if an abuse attempt is confirmed we'll penalise the corresponding user by lowering his reputation level. Three penalties lead to a ban. This being said, we believe that our users are less likely to cheat against each other than on other online betting platforms as BETCoffee focuses on betting among friends. The purpose here is to have fun with your friends, not to win money. Also, players will play with a virtual currency which makes it less tempting to cheat.

Let us know in the comments if you've had similar experiences, positive or negative, with adjusted or conflicting results when taking a bet.

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