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Punter wins legal battle against Dublin betting company

A District Court decree for €13,835 was upheld against Sports Spread Betting (Ireland) Ltd, Ballsbridge, Dublin.

Image: Shutterstock/GaudiLab

AN ENGLISH PUNTER has won a legal battle with a leading Dublin online spread betting company, despite a ban in Irish law against the recovery of gambling debts.

Circuit Court President Mr Justice Raymond Groarke upheld a District Court decree for £10,660 Sterling (€13,835) in favour of Nottingham-based gambler Simon Morehen against Sports Spread Betting (Ireland) Ltd, Ballsbridge, Dublin.

Barrister Stephen Hughes, counsel for analytical consultant Morehen, told the court his client had deposited £10,000 in an online account with Sports Spread Betting (Ireland) in June 2014.

Barrister Hughes, who appeared with Ivor Fitzpatrick and Co solicitors, said Morehen had become aware of a promotion offer in respect of new accounts whereby an initial deposit would be topped up by the online company with an extra 25%.

When he had applied for the top-up the company replied that the bonus applied only to the first £2,000 and added only £500 to his account. Then Morehen had made three small successful bets returning a profit of £160 which had been added to his account.

Hughes said that on 25 July 2014 Morehen requested a cheque withdrawal of the account balance for £10,660. On 6 August 2014, he was told his account had been closed and a cheque would issue.

He said this had not happened and the District Court had awarded judgement in that amount against the company for having failed to deliver a defence.

Judge Groarke heard the company had sought to set aside the District Court judgement and when this had been refused had appealed the award to the Circuit Court.

Costs

Barrister William Martin-Smith, who appeared with solicitors Carley & Connellan for Sports Spread Betting (Ireland), said following inter-party talks that the company was prepared to pay Morehen £10,000 together with District Court costs but wanted submissions on the legal costs of the appeal adjourned to a later date.

When Judge Groarke was later asked to determine the appeal he said it was not for his court to decide any issue of law banning recovery of gambling debts in Ireland. In considering the company’s appeal to set aside the judgement an entirely different set of criteria applied.

Judge Groarke said Sports Spread Betting (Ireland) was well aware that Mr Morehen intended to proceed with his District Court action but had “made a purposeful decision not to engage in those proceedings.”

He said the court to some degree was conscious of the fact that the defendant acknowledged a payment should and would be made to Mr Morehen. He affirmed the lower court’s judgement for £10,660 in order to “clear the tables” so that the company could consider if it wished to proceed with any legal issue raised by Section 36 (2) of the Gaming and Lotteries Act.

Judge Groarke awarded Morehen District Court costs but made no order relating to costs of the appeal to the Circuit Court.

Brian O’Neill, a betting consultant to Sportsspread.com, told the court he had advised the company that gambling debts and gambling monies connected to gambling were not recoverable at law under Section 36 of the Gaming and Lotteries Act 1956. The recovery of monies ban had been upheld in the High Court in another case by Mr Justice Colm Mac Eochaidh.

Read: Lotto machines and website crash as whopper jackpot heads for €12m>

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Ray Managh

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