Monday, February 21, 2011

The Canadian Paddy Power Saga Continues

For those of you who haven't read it yet, I suggest reading the first, second, and third posts I made about Paddy Power's behavior towards its Canadian clients.  To summarize, they cancelled their Canadian clients' accounts with little notice (they were still taking bets from Canadians the same day that they announced accounts would be frozen at noon), citing the vague reason of "Canadian law."

Below is a copy of their e-mail message sent to Canadian account holders on February 21, 2011--a week after the initial e-mail they sent.  Notice that they now refer to their "legal advisors" and the "Canadian Criminal Code" after multiple clients criticized them for being vague about what "Canadian law" had been violated.  They still do not mention what section of the Criminal Code has supposedly been breached for the many years during which they accepted Canadian users.

Dear ________,

Based on a recent recommendation from our local legal advisors as a result of issues arising under the Canadian Criminal Code, we have decided to restrict Canadian residents' access to our services. Accordingly, further to our email to you of 14th February, and the 7 days notice provided therein, we have now closed your account with us here at Paddy Power.

Do you still have money in your account?

If you still have a balance on your account, we will of course return this to you. In order to obtain the balance on your account we would appreciate if you would please contact our Customer Service team for assistance so that we can arrange a refund of the balance due. Paddy Power customer service details are set out at the bottom of this email for your convenience.

Do you still have a bet that has not been settled yet?

If you have any outstanding bets that have not yet been settled, we will of course honour these bets. You can check the status of any of your bets that have not yet settled by contacting our Customer Service team.

We appreciate your custom and hope that your experience with was an enjoyable one. If you have any questions about this decision or your account in general please feel free to contact our Customer Service team using the details below.

Best Wishes,

Paddy Power Customer Service Team

A few points should be made about this e-mail.

Firstly, it took seven days from the original e-mail to release the excuse that there are problems under the Canadian Criminal Code related to Paddy Power's provision of services to Canadian users.  This comes after betting forums and blogs were critical of Paddy Power's failure to provide any explanation of what "Canadian law" referred to in their first e-mail was being violated.

Secondly, Paddy Power has still yet to cite, with any specificity, the section of the Criminal Code which they claim has been violated.  There are 849 sections to the Criminal Code by my count.  It would be nice to know which one of those sections Paddy Power claims has been violated.  Perhaps it is s. 365, which prohibits the fraudulent practice of sorcery, or s. 338, which bans cattle theft.

Thirdly, Paddy Power has been a large company for some time and has presumably always had legal advisors.  The Canadian Criminal Code has not made any new offences related to betting to my knowledge for years, other than to change the sentencing guidelines for some offences, while maintaining the same elements for the offence.  Presuming that there have been no changes in the Criminal Code regarding betting, why is it that Paddy Power all of a sudden has a change of heart and declares that what it is doing is unlawful.

The entire nonsensical "Criminal Code" excuse is best addressed by looking at a much simpler explanation: Paddy Power uses GTECH G2 technology for its gaming, and the monopolistic government-run gaming corporations in three provincial jurisdictions within Canada have put pressure on Gtech to bar foreign companies without Canadian licenses from providing services to Canadians, even though they have done so for years without Canada's federal Attorney-General taking any actions against them which would suggest that their activities are unlawful.

Bwin, which uses the same technology as Paddy Power, gave a much simpler explanation for why they took the same Canadian-blocking actions that Paddy Power took:

We regret to inform you that in light of the recent announcements by the British Columbia Lottery Corporation, Loto-Québec and the Atlantic Lottery Corporation regarding the launch of regulated online gaming products in Canada, our Download Casino vendor, GTECH G2, has decided to block Canadian Users from using their software.

Only operators licensed by the Canadian authorities will be permitted to offer online gaming products to Canadian residents.

We regret to inform you that we have to follow this decision and that the block is effective since 24.09.2010 onwards.

As your access to the Download Casino has been terminated by an external legal issue, we are not able to allow you to continue playing.

We regret that as this is due to an alteration within the Law in Canada.

While I don't buy that anything other than provincial laws, which cannot apply to other provinces and should not result in a Canada-wide ban, have been altered of late, at least Bwin was more open and pointed out that it was because their software vendor, GTECH G2, was the decision-maker behind all of this.

Ideally, Canadians won't put up with this monopolistic racket being run by their provincial governments, and will simply go to a third online betting site which doesn't use the same software instead of being strong-armed into giving patronage to the government-run sites.  I believe Betfair might be a suitable alternative for any Canadians who don't like being told that their government-licensed forms of recreation are morally superior to the Austrian (Bwin) or British/Irish (Paddy Power)-licensed forms of recreation.

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