Closed accounts and immediate refunds – why Curley's full jackpot remains unpaid

Barney Curley's coup represents a new pinnacle after a lifetime of betting, but he does not like everything about the view. Though he stresses his respect for most bookmakers, he wants to draw attention to the way some firms, as he sees it, are trying to wriggle away from debts of honour.

Most big operators paid promptly, and in full – Ladbrokes, Coral, William Hill and so on. Stan James also honoured the outstanding liabilities of a smaller chain, after a subsequent takeover. "And there are certain small firms that can't pay," Curley adds. "They don't have the money, and they've said they'll pay so much a month. That's fine. I wouldn't want to put anyone on the street. I wouldn't want to ruin anyone. But it's these other comedians. Look at this. It's sharp practice."

He shows me a dossier. According to Curley, at 2.06 pm on 10 May, with military discipline, four Sportingbet account holders staked a £100 treble, each comprising a different combination of the four horses involved in the gamble. A fifth account struck a £50 Yankee, a multiple bet that combined all four. Prices were requested and laid.

He says that at 3.10pm, the four who had staked trebles were sent emails stating that their accounts had been closed, and their bets voided. In the meantime, of course, a wildfire of panic had been ignited through the industry, and the odds were being slashed. Then, at 4.09 pm, just seconds before the first horse ran at Brighton, the holder of the Yankee account was sent the same email, he claims.

The one treble that survived the defeat of Sommersturm should have paid £27,000; the Yankee, £99,000.

Subsequent emails from Sportingbet to these clients cite the terms and conditions of their business. One reserves the right to refuse a bet for no reason; also to close an account and refund the balance with no explanation. Curley argues that these wagers had not been refused and as such, should be honoured as "outstanding bets".

Sportingbet was contacted yesterday by The Independent but has yet to put its side of the story.

Curley is always scrupulously careful, he says, not to play into the hands of his enemies within the Establishment. The British Horseracing Authority is understood to have no concerns about the past performances of any of these horses. "If you're at the edge of the rules – well, they're the boss, you have very little comeback," Curley reasons. "And certain people would be delighted to put the knife in."

Even so, other firms are holding out. Curley says that another off-shore, on-line bookmaker paid out a client £11,910 on 18 May, and then retrieved that sum a week later, without notice, claiming that the bets were being investigated as "irregular or possibly fraudulent". Two small firms have tried to void bets due to suspicious betting patterns, and online payments by another are still pending.

If necessary, Curley and his men will take their creditors to the independent betting arbitration service. "But it shouldn't be that way," he complains. "In the big scheme of things, it's only what I call 'walk-around' money. We're all right. We've plenty of money. But what if it was some other poor devil?"

The whole beauty of his scheme was that it targeted the bookmakers' soft centre. Multiple bets are monitored less vigilantly. Only an optimist, as a rule, would try to group four winners on one ticket. Curley believes he can show that some bookmakers squeal when they discover that they have not, for once, been dealing with mugs.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk