Who pays for mistakes in odds under gaming law ?
The Italian gambling authority, AAMS, held that in case of clear errors in odds performed by sports betting operators, the bets shall be in any case paid under applicable gaming law since this is part of the bookmaker’s business risk.
On this matter, it is interesting that in 2012 the Court of Rome held in a dispute concerning a clearly mistaken odd published by an Italian licensed sports betting operator that the bet was not valid and players had taken advantage of such mistake which was clearly recognizable by them. Such decision was issued after that the AAMS’ commission in charge of sorting disputes on sportsbets had held that under applicable gaming law the bet had to be paid regardless of the clearly mistaken odd.
If the same commission has now confirmed its old approach despite of the decision of the Court of Rome, it will be interesting to see the reaction from operators. Indeed, the applicable provisions of the Italian civil code are very straight forward: in case of errors on an essential term of a contract (as the odd would be for bets) which are clearly recognizable by the other party (i.e. by players in case of major mistakes in odds) the contract and therefore the bet are not valid with the consequential mere return of the amount bet.
Additionally, if bets placed on clearly mistaken odds were deemed to be valid this would support the conduct of players that clearly took advantage of such mistake. Professional players have system able to immediately identify a mistaken odd and to place relevant bets on that before operators can identify the mistake, and operators in some instances prefer to pay the bets connected to mistaken odds to avoid the costs of a court proceeding, but it is unusual that such circumstance is supported by the regulator.
According to the position of the AAMS commission, in the particular dispute the mistake in the odds was not clearly recognisable as it was not obivous under applicable gaming law . Also, it was not possible to assess the psicological position of the players when they placed the bet.
Unfortunately, from the decision it is not possible to obtain more details on the case, but we will watch the evolution of the matter closely and as usual feel free to contact me, Giulio Coraggio, to discuss. And follow me on Twitter, Google+ and become one of my friends on LinkedIn.
WRITTEN BY GIULIO CORAGGIO
IT, gaming, privacy and commercial lawyer at the leading law firm DLA Piper. You can contact me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com or via phone at +39 334 688 1147.