By AYOOLA OLAOLUWA
Aggrieved sports bettors have turned the heat on a leading online gaming and betting platform, MSport, over claims of non-payment of claims by the company.
According to some of the aggrieved bettors, who spoke with Business Hallmark, the management of MSport Betting Company had refused to pay its winners their winning stakes. The company, they also alleged, voided some of their games in an attempt to totally avoid paying or reduce their winnings.
BH gathered that trouble started on Thursday, May 12, 2022, when a renowned sports betting pundit on Twitter, Mayor of Twitter, predicted a winning code, 440, which he posted on Twitter.
Owing to his high rate of giving out winning numbers, many bettors had staked millions of naira hoping to win big. The stakes placed on the number (440), a source in the betting industry confided in our correspondent, is in the region of N54 million, which would have fetched winners over N1.5billion naira.
“Fortunately for the bettors and unfortunately for MSport, the number clicked and many stakers won huge sums of money”, the source told our correspondent.
However, rattled by the unexpected massive winnings and the massive amount required to settle the claims, the betting firm, it was learnt, reportedly baulked, deciding to introduce new rules/conditions after the game.
One of the bettors who only identified himself as Emekus, claimed he and some of his winning friends were still in the mood of jubilation when they started noticing that their winnings had drastically reduced.
“I had staked N7,500 on the 440 odds as advised by the oracle of betting, the Mayor of Twitter, and was expecting to go home with N5.5million.
“But I was shocked when I visited the company’s agent where I placed my bet only to be told that I’m entitled to a much lesser amount.
“The agent informed me that some of the games on my ticket had been voided and that I was only entitled toN1.1million.
“After trying unsuccessfully to make him (agent) change his mind, I angrily stormed out of his office with my friends who went with me after listening to the advice by an elderly man that we should rather visit the company’s head office.
“Unfortunately, we didn’t achieve any success at the company’s head office as we were told that they could only pay us the amounts their agents had already offered us.
“Nigerians should help me appeal to MSport to quickly pay me my money or I will take them to court”, Emekus declared.
Another bettor, Bayo Adetunji, who had staked N15,000 on the winning number, and was expecting to win N11million, lamented that the company has even refused to pay him the amount it initially offered to pay.
“I had staked the sum of N15,000 on the winning odds, expecting to win N11 million.
“So, when the winning number was announced,
I was overjoyed and rushed to my agent who told me that the amount is higher than what he has the power to pay. He then directed me to their head office.
“I was dumbfounded when they told me at the head office that they can only pay me a little over N2 million.
“I initially rejected the offer. But after my wife and family admonished me to go and collect the money, I agreed and visited the company again to intimate them of my readiness to accept their offer.
“I was told to give them two working days to process the money. Today is the 20th of May, more than seven days after the result was announced, and I have not heard from them”, Adetunji lamented.
Sources also claimed that while Msport voided the tickets of some stakers who won millions of naira, it sent messages to the wallets of those who withdrew immediately after winning that it is owing them the exact amount they won.
Several winners, particularly those that insisted on getting the full value of their winnings, BH learnt, are still waiting to be paid.
Some customers of the betting firm also claimed that the company, apart from refusing to pay them their winnings, had developed the habit of often introducing new conditions in the middle or after a game that they must fulfill to be able to collect their winnings.
“When we lose, we cut our loses and move on and keep trying. But anytime we win, they start to give terms and conditions. Msport, this is totally unfair”, complained another bettor, Chizea.
Another customer, Daniel Regha, urged the Federal Government to put in place stiffer sports betting regulations to prevent cases of fraud and refusal to pay winnings by gaming companies.
“There’sabsolutelyzeroregulationsforbookiesinNigeria.Alltheywanttodoistake.takeandtake.It is so sad”, he said.
A visibly angry customer who goes by the name @Ekitipikinon Twitter, called out MSport for indulging in obvious fraud.
“I won a game where all my winnings were stated, including one bodly written‘includingextrawinnings.
“But when I made a move to claim the winnings, they marked my game ‘loss and refunded stakes’.
“The money I used to stake was speedily refunded. Unbelievable! Where is that done? When do they start to refund lost stakes? Do they even refund losses?
“If they don’t do any thing about it soon, they should be ready to bid bye-bye to their customers as we won’t be playing with them anymore”, he admonished the management of the company.
“Can you imagine a bettor staying awake all night to predict games, and after thorough research and analysis, the game booms. But my bookie has refused to pay up. Msport pay up! Stop the fraud!”, yet another aggrieved customer bellowed.
However, some customer of the betting firm who spoke with our correspondent on the development, while doubting the allegations of fraud, gave the betting firm a vote of confidence.
According to them, MSport had been faithful in the payments of winnings. They wondered if the affected customers were actually customers of the firm.
“I don’t know where all these hues and cries are coming from! But what I know is that Msport is really good.
“I guess all those negative sayings were cooked up by competing betting platforms to weigh Msport down.
Efforts to get the reaction of the betting firm failed, as calls placed to the two phone numbers on its official website were not answered. Also, text messages sent to the number were not replied.
In its reaction, the National Lottery Regulatory Commission (NLRC), said it is investigating the claims.
“Our attention has been brought to these complaints. Thorough investigation has started. Be rest assured of our swift response to this in the shortest period,” said Lanre Gbaja, the director general of the commission.
According to available data, Nigerians, especially the youths, are heavily engaged in sports betting, spending an estimated N1trillion annually on gambling activities.