said the voided bets made on Voler La Vedette were placed by a "bot" from an
account with less than £1,000 in it.
The Betfair betting exchange on Friday issued what it
described as a "full and final statement" on the extraordinary in-running
betting patterns which turned the Christmas Hurdle at Leopardstown on Wednesday
into one of the most high-profile and controversial races for many years.
However, the statement offered little additional detail about how it came to
process and accept a bet with a theoretical liability of nearly £600m
from a customer with less than £1,000 in his account.
in-running bets on Wednesday's race were declared void as a result of the rogue
bet, which appeared to offer Betfair's clients a chance to back Voler La
Vedette, the 13-8 second-favourite, at odds of 28-1, to a maximum of just over
The bet appeared in the early stages of the race and was
available until Voler La Vedette, who was travelling ominously well throughout,
crossed the line as an easy winner.
As many as 200 Betfair clients are
believed to have placed bets totalling just over £800,000 on Voler La
Vedette, with a theoretical return of about £23m. Instead they simply
received their stake money back when Betfair voided the in-running betting due
to "an obvious technical fault which allowed a customer to exceed their
statement, described as an apology and explanation to Betfair customers from
Stephen Morana Betfair's acting chief executive officer, said that the bet had
been placed by an automated betting programme or "bot" via the
site's Application Programming Interface (API), which is designed specifically
to work with betting software.
Morana's statement said that the "bot
had developed a fault, causing it to try and place a very large number of bets
on the exchange. These bets were large in size and mispriced. As [Betfair
customers] know, the Betfair system is designed to prevent customers betting
unless they have the funds to cover their maximum liability.
case the customer had less than £1,000 in their account so none of these
bets should have been accepted. However, due to a technical glitch within the
core exchange database one of the bets evaded the prevention system and was
shown on the site. This was an issue that was triggered because of a unique
sequence of events that had never happened before."
The nature of the
unique sequence of events was not explained, however, although Morana's
statement assured Betfair customers that "there have been no subsequent
occurrences of this fault and we've taken steps to prevent its reoccurrence in
the future. Lessons have been learnt in terms of how quickly we need to respond
and how we need to communicate with our customers."
Morana concluded by
saying that he had been "personally devastated when this event occurred" and
offered a further apology to all those affected by it.
latest "full and final" report on the Voler La Vedette fiasco will draw a line
under the affair and restore confidence in Betfair's systems remains to be
seen. Beyond the 200 or so customers who will feel personally bruised by the
affair, some of whom might yet attempt to seek compensation via either the
courts or the Independent Betting Arbitration Service, others will have been
left with a sense of unease that such a bizarre bet could slip through the net,
and also about the extent to which "bots" operate on the site.
to the Guardian on Friday evening, Morana said Betfair accepts that a
significant number of customers will have concerns.
investigated, it was as if there had been 10 different stars all in alignment,"
Morana said. "I would have said before the Leopardstown race that this was
something that could never happen, the odds against it were just
"It was a system issue which should never have
happened and we have put a fix in place to stop it happening again. We are
talking about an infrastructure dealing with billions of bets a year and this
one managed to sneak through.
"We match eight million bets on weekdays
and up to 15 million on a Saturday and that's something we are very comfortable
with. This was a body blow, which undermines the trust we've built up with our
customers, and we've got to prove to people that it was a one-off.
"Yes, we are disappointed when we feel we've let our customers down,
but to my mind, I think the vast majority are people who realise they've got a
better chance of winning with Betfair than with a bookmaker, and they
appreciate that this is quite a complicated beast that we've built."