Customers of 666Bet have been left scratching their heads in bemusement after the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) reiterated that the under-fire gambling company is allowed to process its customers’ withdrawals despite having its operating licence suspended.
Metro Play Limited, the parent company of 666Bet, had its licence suspended on March 20, 2015 by the UKGC under section 118 of the Gambling Act 2005. This section states that an operators licence may be suspended or revoked for reasons such as:
- Activity is being or has been carried on in a manner which is inconsistent with the licensing objectives
- A condition of the licence has been breached
- The licensee has failed to cooperate with a review under section 116
- The licensee is unsuitable to carry on the licensed activities
A statement at the time of the suspension read:
The Gambling Commission has commenced a review under section 116 of the Gambling Act 2005 (the Act) and, under section 118 of the Act, has decided to suspend Operating Licence No 000-039112-R-319435-001 (Metro Play Limited) while that review takes place.
The Commission has decided to commence a review because it suspects that Metro Play Limited (the Licensee) is unsuitable to carry on the licensed activities (section 120(1)(d) of the Act) and considers it appropriate to suspend the licence with immediate effect pending the conclusion of the review.
In accordance with section 118(4)(c) of the Act the Licensee is authorised to settle any outstanding winning bets that it has accepted in reliance on the above operating licence and return any outstanding balances to customers.
The suspension is an interim measure, the need for which will be kept under consideration whilst the review takes place.
While the UKGC has refused to reveal the exact reason behind the suspension of Metro Play’s licence it appears that links to a multi-million pound fraud investigation, led by Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs (HMRC), could be to blame.
On March 30, UK & Ireland PokerNews reported that one of Metro Play’s directors, Paul Bell, had been arrested in connection with a £21 million fraud and money laundering investigation. Six others were arrested alongside Bell and more than £1 million in cash seized.
On April 13, 666Bet published a statement on its Facebook page claiming it was “currently seeking the appropriate approval from the UK Gambling Commission to re-open 666BET and Metro Play to enable customers to access their accounts.” However, this doesn’t seem to be the case when one considers the UKGC’s short statement in response to 666Bet’s claims:
The Commission made it clear, when it suspended Metro Play Limited’s licence on 20 March, that it is authorised to settle any outstanding winning bets that it accepted in reliance on its operating licence and return any outstanding balances to customers – and we expect it to do so.
This remains the Commission’s position. The Commission has not specified the method by which Metro Play Limited should pay customers. At no point has Metro Play Limited or its third party providers requested the Commission’s approval in order to carry out this task.
On April 14, 666Bet once again turned to its Facebook page and tried to explain its previous lies, even blaming “erroneous and inaccurate press reports – both in print and online – that have helped to muddy the waters.”
The on April 16, 666Bet accused the UKGC of lying and misleading its directors claiming “Metro Play Limited would like to clearly reiterate that we were reliably and explicitly informed on several occasions by our potential third party platform provider that they were waiting for approval from the UKGC in order to get us back on line, dating back to the end of March,” before promising to explore alternative routes to pay customers, and hoped to have more news on Monday 20 April.
Only time will tell if the company is true to its word.