UKGC: Ladbrokes Misled Black Dave Case Investigators
The UK Gambling Commission says Ladbrokes misled their investigators in the Black Dave Case, which involved a horse trainer delaying notification of a non-runner in order to place a bet on another horse. David Evans, a trainer for Ty-Derlwyn Farm near Pandy in Monmouthshire, was the center of the Black Dave Case.
David Evans had two horses running in a 2015 race: Black Dave and Tango Sky. When he made the decision to pull Tango Sky from the race due to health reasons, David Evans delayed notification and placed £6,000 on a Black Dave, which was 4-to-1 at the time.
Evans knew that the odds would be shortened on Black Dave when the news about Tango Sky broke. When he rang Ladbrokes to place a bet on Black Dave in January 2015, the trader knew it was Evans’ largest single bet.
The trader asked, “What’s the message there, then?,” to which David Evans admitted that Tango Sky was going to miss the race. Still, David Evans was allowed to make the bet, which he lost when Black Dave finished in 4th place.
British Horseracing Authority’s Fine
Tim Charlton QC of the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) described the reason David Evans was sanctioned, stating, “Mr Evans was intent on, as he described it, ‘nicking a bit of extra value’…without first disclosing he was about to pull out the market-leader. The sport of horse racing has a fundamental interest in honest and accurate betting markets.”
When the BHA fined Evans £3,000 in November 2018, British newspapers described as “very lenient”. Tim Charlton, who assessed the finel, said the original fine was £4,000, but it was reduced because Evans gave “honest answers at every stage of the investigation.”
Ladbrokes Trimmed Tango Sky’s Odds
Apparently, the same could not be said about Ladbrokes. Ladbrokes shortened the odds on Tango Sky shortly after finding out the horse was not going to race. Three years after the incident, the UK Gambling Commission said in a report that Ladbrokes still could not account for the decision to lower the odds on Tango Sky.
The Gambling Commission thought the idea was to induce horse bettors to make wagers on a horse which would not run. The Gambling Commission claims it found evidence that Ladbrokes sought “to maximise Rule 4 deductions” from winning bets already placed on the race.
The UKGC’s report went on to say that Ladbrokes “had failed to appropriately review all information available to them prior to initially providing…inaccurate explanations.”
Ladbrokes Not Fined for Black Dave
Ladbrokes was not punished for the Black Dave Case for two reasons. First, as The Guardian explained, Ladbrokes Coral’s “actions did not amount to a breach of the Commission’s licence conditions or code of conduct and the case pre-dated the Commission’s public statements about the fair application of Rule 4.”
Second, Ladbrokes received credit, because it brought the case to the British Horseracing Authority’s regulators on the day of the race. Eventually, Ladbrokes collected an additional £7.70 on the race by lowering Tango Sky’s odds. The BHA said the race had lower turnover.
Warning on Rule 4 Deductions
The UK Gambling Commission gave a warning to British racebooks about Rule 4 deductions moving forward. In doing so, the UKGC said it views the warning as a “line in the sand” for future violations.
The Gambling Commission has instituted a crackdown on ethical violations by British bookmakers and gaming sites over the past two years. Several record fines ranging into the millions have been handed down. If British bookmakers are receiving a warning about Rule 4 violations, then it means they better take them seriously. One can expect a fine for such activity in the next year, if an UK gaming company steps out of line.