Anyone that bets with an online sportsbook or gambles at an online casino knows the fear that a bookie will suddenly disappear. Players are always wary that the money in their account could vanish. That very thing happened with MoPlay, a highly regarded online sportsbook that had managed to land lucrative partnerships and endorsements with professional sports leagues.
The story of MoPlay and how it came to lose its online gambling license is a cautionary tale. It should serve to remind punters that betting online should only be done with trusted providers. Those who failed to spot the warning signs with MoPlay are now left to try and recover their money in the courts.
The MoPlay Saga – How the Sportsbook Got Suspended
Addison Global was the parent company behind MoPlay, an innovative online sportsbook that arrived on the market with considerable fanfare. The company was based in Gibraltar, a haven for many online casinos and sportsbooks. Gibraltar has a fairly good reputation when it comes to licensing gaming venues. It imposes a strict licensing process and vets all prospective gaming providers.
MoPlay was staffed by 130 people, another sign that the business was legitimate. Other good indicators were large capital investments that allowed MoPlay to sponsor Premier League teams. It wasn’t long, however, until concerns were voiced by people in the know. In 2019, MoPlay defaulted on sponsorship payments to Manchester United and Watford. The missed payments ultimately landed MoPlay in court. Shareholders in the United States then began to jump ship.
This would have been enough to warrant suspicion on the part of most punters, but many of them may not have known what was happening until it was too late. Business at the online sportsbook was unaffected as these legal proceedings were playing out behind the scenes.
Some advertising partners began to report that MoPlay was failing to pay its advertising revenues. Then, on February 19, 2020, the hammer fell. Addison Global and its MoPlay online sportsbook were stripped of licensing by the Gibraltar Gaming Commission. The company also lost its United Kingdom gaming license. The news barely preceded the onset of the Covid-19 global pandemic which has caused online gambling revenues in many locations to rise.
The official reason for the suspension was a failure to process player withdrawals. The company has been accused of failing to meet financial obligations. Players that had an account with MoPlay at the time its license was revoked have been left in a sort of limbo. Many are wondering how they can go about the business of closing their MoPlay accounts and recovering their money. Some even had bets in progress when MoPlay was shuttered without much warning.
What About the Money in Your MoPlay Account and Active Bets?
Many punters were left high and dry with the unexpected closure of MoPlay. It is only natural that their primary concern would be the return of any monies that were in their account. Players with active bets are also wondering about the status of those bets. New players could also have concerns about the bonus money they were promised on signing up.
To help players understand the process of getting money back from MoPlay we should first explain the protections afforded by the UK gambling commission. Online casinos and sportsbooks have more than one option when it comes to satisfying regulations for protecting player funds.
At the highest level of protection the sportsbook is required to maintain player funds in accounts that are legally independent. Medium level protections include insuring player accounts against loss. The lowest level is one in which the sportsbook maintains the player funds in its own accounts, but player funds are separate from the operating funds of the company. It appears that MoPlay opted for the minimum account protections to satisfy gaming regulators in the UK and Gibraltar.
This is not uncommon. Many online sportsbooks look for the easiest way to satisfy their licensing requirements. Quite a few with minimal protections do not run afoul of the gaming commissions.
This is a problem for punters. While the company was up and running with some type of solvency the possibility of player funds being returned was greater. With the company being broke it will be much more difficult for players to reclaim the money that was in their accounts. Of course, players were given little or no warning that the MoPlay suspension was imminent. A matter of a few days would have allowed at least some of the players to withdraw the money in their accounts.
Active bets could also be lost to players. According to the terms and conditions that players agreed to follow when they created an account with MoPlay, the company going broke would result in the inability to return player funds.
Players are asked to agree to the terms and conditions of an online sportsbook before they are allowed to open an account. Most players never bother to read the legal information. Some terms and conditions can actually serve to protect the online sportsbook in the event the company goes broke. This was apparently the case with MoPlay.
Clause 9 of the MoPlay player terms and conditions expressly states that in the event of insolvency the player’s funds will be considered a part of the company assets. The document goes on to say that players may never be able to get their funds back in the event of insolvency.
However, there could be a silver lining in the black cloud for UK punters. At some point it is likely that a legal entity or trustee will be tasked with distributing player funds. The amount that players receive will depend upon how much money is left once MoPlay satisfies its creditors. Players could receive a portion of their deposits, a settlement amount that is agreed upon by the regulators and courts.
A sad reality is that the other entities that MoPlay owes will probably get their money first before the player accounts are restored.
How Did MoPlay Go Broke?
It is always natural for players to ask why a sportsbook went broke. In the case of MoPlay and Addison Global there are many people who would like to have that answer. A look at the history of the company sheds some light.
MoPlay was created by Addison Global in 2017. By the following year the sportsbook was firing on all cylinders with exclusive partnerships that included Premier League teams. To engage players with the brand, MoPlay ran a number of promotions that included things like risk-free bets. It is common for new online sportsbooks to offer promotions to lure new players.
In 2019 there were signs of trouble. MoPlay was unable to compensate its Premier League partners for advertising fees. The teams sought to resolve the issue in court, and by this time it was apparent that Addison Global was hurting for capital. No one has yet to explain what became of all the capital that was originally invested in the MoPlay brand.
At one time there had to be an appearance of legitimacy for the MoPlay brand. Otherwise the company would not have been able to lure affiliates.
In many cases a situation such as this occurs when those involved with the brand are siphoning off funds. It could also be that MoPlay was underfunded and unable to pay off players due to its promotion schedule. One of the promotions that MoPlay offered was a risk-free bet on the Superbowl. This promotion could have cost the company millions depending on the number of punters who exercised the risk-free option.
It is also possible that those individuals running MoPlay did not have the industry experience needed to operate a large-scale bookmaking operation.
There were an initial three days following the suspension of the MoPlay license that players could request refunds and cash out. Many players are reporting that they did indeed request refunds during the three day window, but the money has yet to be returned. Some speculate that when MoPlay announced the withdrawals it was already broke and could not pay player accounts.
Recent Update – MoPlay Player Accounts Acquired by Betfred
There may be hope for punters seeking restitution from MoPlay. Betfred, another online bookmaker licensed in the UK, announced in March that it had made a deal to purchase 45,000 player accounts belonging to UK residents.
Betfred’s acquisition does not necessarily mean that MoPlay punters will immediately receive their money back. MoPlay and Addison Global would still be responsible for paying players from the money received from the Betfred purchase.
Any agreement that would result in MoPlay making restitution to players based on the monies obtained from the sale of player accounts is likely to be debated in court. Betfred’s interest is in obtaining the information for players that it can potentially add to its own player rolls.
Is This the End for MoPlay?
It is difficult to envision a scenario where MoPlay would once again offer online sports betting. The company has been stripped of its gaming license in multiple jurisdictions. However, it is not unheard of for gaming companies to be launched again once outstanding matters have been resolved. In the case of Addison Global and MoPlay this is unlikely. There is a now a toxic element to the very name of the sportsbook.
A drama will play out in the courts over the next few months. A determination will be made about the solvency of MoPlay. Those who were responsible for the company going broke will surely be held to task. Once the legal part of the business is sorted, there will probably be efforts to reimburse punters who lost the money that was in their wagering accounts.
A difficulty in situations like this is making determinations on how much in lost funds the player is entitled to. MoPlay and Addison Global will argue that the money is lost and that players cannot be reimbursed. The gaming commissions will fight to recover the funds, but if the money is not available there is little recourse for the player.
At the present time there are three possible outcomes. The first of these is another company purchasing all the assets of MoPlay customers. We mentioned that Betfred has already moved to acquire some 45,000 player accounts. The problem with this scenario on a large scale is that MoPlay owes in excess of £500,000 to some of its advertising partners. It is unlikely that another company would want to assume that kind of liability in the hopes of making an eventual profit.
A second possibility is that another company could purchase the rights to the MoPlay name and launch the sportsbook again under new ownership. This is a double-edge sword. Some players will remember the problems with the old MoPlay and steer clear. Others unaware of the insolvency of MoPlay will think it is the same company doing business as usual. Still another group may be unfamiliar with MoPlay in any context except as a new online sportsbook. It would be a gamble for everyone involved.
The most probable result of this fiasco is that MoPlay is done as an online sportsbook brand. It is going to be very difficult to convince people to play with the MoPlay brand. The company has become toxic.
Lessons Learned From MoPlay About Online Sportsbooks
There are hard lessons to be learned here for the punter who likes to bet sports online in the UK. Perhaps the most important of these is that punters must do their due diligence before signing up with an online bookmaker and depositing money. Once a player has committed to funding their account, the player is then subject to the sportsbook’s terms and conditions.
Players should take the time to read the terms and conditions of an online sportsbook word-for-word. If certain things are unclear, players should contact the customer support of the sportsbook for clarification.
Bookies are a tradition in the UK. There are many recognized bookmakers such as Ladbrokes and William Hill which have worked hard to cultivate their reputation in the sports betting industry. When you choose a trusted name to book your bets the chances are slim that you will encounter a problem. Reputable bookies are quick to rectify any mistakes that are made. They have too much to lose when behaving unethically.
MoPlay was able to fool many punters into thinking the company was legitimate. They did this by making big offers to important names in sports like Manchester United. When punters saw that MoPlay had legitimate affiliations they were more willing to trust the bookmaker. There is no substitute for years of industry experience when it comes to choosing an online sportsbook.
The gaming commissions in the UK and Gibraltar will not like the fact that they have had to take a black eye over the MoPlay and Addison Global Limited debacle. They could be more stringent in providing gaming licenses in the future.
Ultimately, the responsibility of choosing a reputable bookmaker rests on the shoulders of the player. Research well and check online reviews before you agree to open your account or place bets with an online sportsbook. You should also be wary of the review sites that you consider. These can often be mere shills for certain sportsbooks to attract new customers.
The Bottom Line on MoPlay
In conclusion, we hope that punters who lost the money in their MoPlay website accounts will be able to recover those funds. We caution patience. The legal issues could take years to play out before everything is resolved.
Compare the situation with what happened in the US when online poker rooms were closed down on April 15, 2011. Those who held money in various online poker accounts had the money seized. It took years for some of these players to recover their money. Some only got a portion of their funds back. Some got no money at all.
The individuals that were responsible for cheating players in that circumstance were all held accountable. That will probably happen with MoPlay, but that will be of little compensation to those players who have lost thousands.
The industry could also take some lessons from this sad situation. At some point the industry should be working to make sure it implements better safeguards for player funds. The current system allows online sportsbooks and online casinos to get away with the minimum amount of protections. Reforms should probably be made which mandate better protection for the funds held in player accounts.
Online sportsbooks could also be required to maintain some type of escrow account that would provide a fund to replay players if the online sportsbook were to suffer insolvency. These are very broad suggestions, but they could increase the confidence that players have in their online sportsbook. Until such measures are taken there will remain a stigma around online sports betting that unfairly affects legit bookmakers.
We hope the situation is not as dire for MoPlay punters. We’ll keep an eye on the situation and post updates as they become available.