British Betting Exchanges Offer Assurances to Customers

Following the placement of the British betting company Sporting Options under administration, meaning it has financial problems, other betting exchanges were quick to assure customers that their accounts were safe.

In a notice posted on its Web site Monday, Sporting Options said all betting activities the Internet site have been suspended and that two administrators had been appointed to assess the financial position of the company and its business operations. The company statement said it would issue statements to the press and "corresponding directly" with stakeholders and asked that any inquiries to the company be submitted via e-mail rather than by telephone.

"We will endeavor to deal with any queries as quickly as possible, but ask that in the first instance you refer to the information made available on this Web site. Please do not contact us by telephone. This is very important, as it will lead to a delay in the process of dealing with e-mail inquiries as well as the process of administering the company in a timely and efficient manner."

While the Web site offered a link for customers to check their accounts, it noted that "all unsettled markets have been voided."

The company did not explain what events led to Sporting Options being placed under administration.

In light of the Sporting Options development, at least two other betting companies assured customers their accounts are safe.

Stephen Hill, chief executive of Betfair, said client accounts are kept separate from company funds and that "under no circumstances could third parties have a claim on Betfair clients'money...Simply put, your money is as safe (if not safer) with Betfair as with a bank and Betfair will always have 100% of its customers' money available to withdraw whenever they want it."

Another company, Betdaq, issued a statement noting that it was surprised that Sporting Options went into administration and that "we have sympathy for those who may be adversely affected."

Noting that Betdaq is in "rude good health," the statement said Betdaq "customer funds have always been fully ring-fenced from the daily operation expenses of the exchange."

The company added that it was the industry's first exchange to place a $10-million cash bond with its bank in 2001 "in recognition of the absolute priority we give to customer confidence and to the security of customer funds."