The long-running legal suit in which Megan McCann, a Northern Ireland student, sued the bookmaker Bet365 for £1 Million in unpaid winnings was ended shortly before returning to court in Belfast, triggering speculation that Bet365 had agreed to a settlement on the disputed bests almost 3 years after they were placed in June 2016.
On 22 June 2016, a Bet365 account under the name of McCann, who was a 19 years old student at the time, placed a bet of nearly £25,000 on 12 horses running in races at Bath, Kempton Park and Naas. And Bet365 had accepted the bets – a combined total of £960 £13 each way Lucky 15s – and those bets were mostly successful and returned as a total payout of £984,833.
Bet365 declined to pay the winnings, arguing that a third party had provided the original stake for the bets in contravention of the terms and conditions of the company. They also refused the £25,000 stake to be refunded.
Two years ago, McCann took legal action against Bet365, and Friday morning was scheduled as the latest in a series of court dates heading towards a full hearing of the case.
Nevertheless, the listing was deleted earlier this week and on Wednesday an administrator at the high court in Belfast confirmed that McCann's legal team had filed an formal "notice of discontinuance" in the case.
While punters who have followed the case will be happy if it transpires that some or all of the £1 Million of winnings have been paid, the news it won't reach a full hearing might also leave a lingering sense of frustration that significant questions about the robustness of the terms and conditions of a major bookmaker won't be tested at court.
According to McCann's statement, Bet365 and other leading online bookmakers are typically engaging in "unconscionable activities" when dealing with their customers and are deliberately discriminating against shrewd punters who can make their betting pay. Most of the experienced punters find that it is almost impossible to let the bookmakers accept their bets, and their accounts are either closed or, more generally, limited to stakes of £1 or less. As a result, some are known to resort to the use of "clean" accounts opened by their family members, friends and acquaintances to place bets on their behalf. Bet365 hasn't responded to a request for comment on Wednesday.