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
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: Web Developer - Junior / Mid Weight

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To support their continued grow...

Recruitment Genius: Marketing Data Specialist

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are the go-to company for ...

Recruitment Genius: Search Marketing Specialist - PPC / SEO

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join the UK's leadin...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This caravan dealership are currently recruiti...

Day In a Page

Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test