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Ibas calls for change to palpable error wording - Racing Post - Thursday 27th November 2008

THE chief executive of betting’s arbitration service yesterday called for ‘palpable error’ to be removed from all bookmakers’ rules, and a new, clearer ruling inserted in its place.

Ibas boss Chris O’Keeffe was speaking after a Totesport punter received an out-of-court settlement following his decision to take his case to Northampton County Court, after Ibas had found in favour of the bookmaker.

Steve Baker stood to win £700 after making two bets on Northampton Saints to win rugby union’s National League One title with a 100 per cent record last season. However, Totesport refused to pay out because Baker had mistakenly been offered odds on the town’s football club instead.

O’Keeffe said: “As it stands, at the moment we are mindful of the fact we are working against a backdrop of contract law, but we are also mindful of the fact our role is to be expert interpreters of bookmakers’ rules.

“The industry needs to remove the term ‘palpable error’, or its equivalent, from their rules. It has become a mere device lacking true definition.”

He added: “It should be replaced with ‘error, inadvertent error, or obvious error’, qualified through a definition.

“I think the term palpable error has got to be removed from bookmakers’ rules completely. It is something that bookmakers have got to focus on now. I want the rule clearly defined, because at the minute it is so subjective.”

With no precedent to the Northampton bet issue, O’Keeffe said it would be “enlightening” for both the industry and Ibas should a similar case go to court, before adding: “I would have been extremely interested to see how the court would have ruled following our decision, where we judged the case on its merits and made reference to the company’s rules.”

Two of Britain’s biggest betting chains yesterday welcomed O’Keeffe’s proposals, while others have already changed the wording of their rules.

Coral’s director of trading and PR Simon Clare said: “We are always open to reviewing our rules with the prime objective of making them easy to understand for our customers.

“This is the first time that a change has been suggested but it would be sensible to discuss the matter with Ibas.”

Ladbrokes spokesman David Williams said: “We will have to look at any legal implications of changing the wording but if there was a move to provide clarity we would obviously look at it.”

Totesport spokesman Damian Walker said: “Any past references to palpable error have been changed. We now just refer to a ‘right to rectify mistakes’ or ‘right to rectify its errors’, which is fair and in line with Ibas’s suggestion.”

Kate Miller, of William Hill, said: “We already refer to it as an obvious error and have done since August 2007.

“We were never a big fan of the term palpable error, and sought to find a more acceptable one.”

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