Punter Wins Legal Battle Against Leading On-Line Spread Betting Company

An English punter recently won a legal battle against a leading Dublin online spread betting company, despite there being a ban in place under Irish law against the recovery of gambling debts.

The Circuit Court President, Mr Justice Raymond Groarke, upheld a District Court’s decree that £10,660 Sterling (approx. €13,835) in favour of a Nottingham-based gambler, Simon Morehen, against Sports Spread Betting (Ireland) Ltd, Ballsbridge, Dublin.

Barrister Stephen Hughes, the counsel for analytical consultant, Mr. Morehen, told the court that his client during June 2014, had deposited £10,000 into an online account with Sports Spread Betting (Ireland).

Appearing with Ivor Fitzpatrick and Co solicitors, Mr Hughes said that Mr. Morehen was made aware of a promotional offer in respect of new accounts, whereby his initial deposit would be topped up adding an extra 25%. When Mr. Morehen applied for the extra 25% top up, he was told by the company that the bonus only applied to the first £2,000 and they added only £500 to his account. Mr Morehen then made three small successful bets and returned a profit of £160 which had been added to his account.

Mr Hughes continued that on July 25, 2014 Mr. Morehen requested a withdrawal cheque withdrawal from his account balance for £10,660. He was told that on August 6, 2014 his account had been closed and a cheque would issued. He never received the cheque.

Because he did not receive the cheque the District Court awarded judgment for that amount against the company for them having failed to deliver a defence.

Judge Groarke heard that the company had sought setting aside the District Court’s judgment, and when this was refused they then appealed the award to the Circuit Court.

Barrister William Martin-Smith, appearing with solicitors Carley & Connellan representing Sports Spread Betting (Ireland), said that following inter-party talks the company was prepared to pay Mr Morehen £10,000 together with the District Court costs but they wanted submissions on the legal costs of the appeal adjourned to a later date.

When Judge Groarke was asked later to determine the appeal he replied it was not for his court to decide any issue of the law banning the recovery of gambling debts in Ireland, and stated that in considering the company’s appeal for setting aside the judgment that an entirely different set of criteria applied.

Judge Groarke said that Sports Spread Betting (Ireland) was fully aware of the fact that Mr Morehen intended to proceed with his District Court action but that they had “made a purposeful decision to not engage in those proceedings.”

He also said that the court to some degree, was conscious of the fact that the defendant had acknowledged a payment should and that it would be made to Mr Morehen, and also affirmed that the lower court’s judgment for £10,660 was in order to “clear the tables” so the company could consider if they wished to proceed with any of the legal issue raised by Section 36 (2) of the Gaming and Lotteries Act.

Judge Groarke awarded Mr. Morehen the District Court costs but he made no order in relation to the costs of the appeal to the Circuit Court.

Brian O’Neill, who is a betting consultant, to Sportsspread.com, told the court that he had advised the company that gambling debts and the gambling monies that are connected to gambling, were not recoverable at law, under Section 36 of the Gaming and Lotteries Act 1956. He said that the recovery of monies ban was upheld in the High Court in another case by Justice Colm Mac Eochaidh