Betbright Collapse – Bookmaker News

Betbright fiasco has damaged industry trust

Bookmaker News

Rich Ricci has been a darling of the Cheltenham glitterati for a few years but it will be interesting to see if any reporters are brave enough to ask him the proper questions should one of his horses (and there will be quite a few) win at this year’s Festival.

As befits his name, Ricci is a very, very rich man. He was head of corporate and investment banking at Barclays but managed to escape unscathed from the rate-rigging scandal that enveloped and condemned other Barclays senior staff. Now another controversy threatens to tarnish the Ricci reputation following the demise of Dublin bookmaker Betbright.

Though based in England, all of Ricci’s horses are trained in Ireland so nobody raised an eyebrow when the former banking giant took a job as executive chairman of Betbright. The bookmaker was founded in 2013 by Marcus Brennan, Richard Brennan and Tadhg O’Toole. They had no background in the betting industry but the new firm quickly developed its own sports betting and online casino platforms incorporated a range of virtual games from Betradar.

Ricci’s arrival in 2016 seemed to cement their future and they were still winning awards for innovation and marketing as recently as last year. But not everything was as rosy as it seemed and they went bust at the start of this month. A high-profile bookmaker going under is news in itself but that is not what has been making the headlines.

888 Holdings (who own 888sport) has taken over the technical arm of the firm in a £15million deal but has no duty to service Betbright debts. Trust is still what binds bookmakers with their punters and that has been badly betrayed by the Betbright bosses, who have effectively welched on their obligations to customers who have placed ante-post bets. 888sport will honour Cheltenham ante-post bets but no others and hundred if not thousands of football bettors face losing potential winnings.

Ricci says he understand why some customers are upset about its decision to void all open ante-post bets but that it was the most equitable way to wind up the business. When asked why the firm had not set aside money to cover potential outstanding liabilities before finalising the sale price, the American said that the firm had other creditors that needed to be treated in an equitable way and that they needed to find the right balance. But that hasn’t pacified the critics and Ricci, the public face of Betbright, could face a hostile reception at Cheltenham with the fiasco likely to have far-reaching implications. Surely, there should be some mechanism in place to protect punters in such circumstances! Trust between bookmakers and punters has to remain for the industry to function and Betbright’s actions have severely damaged the always-fragile relationship.

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