Melbourne-based online betting company PuntFace Bookies Ltd has ceased trading and terminated the jobs of its 79 employees after being forced to pay out on a bet placed by a Canberra man that has drained the company and its directors of all their cash reserves and assets.
PuntFace Bookies CEO, Ella Quinn, said she was still coming to terms with the events that led to the firm’s demise.
Ms Quinn (pictured above in her now empty offices) said: “PuntFace was well known to be willing to frame a market on any type of bet.
“We’d accept bets on just about anything so when we received a rather unusual wager late last week from a Canberra man we were happy to take it.
“The man had opened an account online through our website and wanted to bet that the major daily newspapers in Melbourne, Sydney, and Brisbane would all carry the same story in their Saturday editions.
“Not just the same story, but he wagered that the story would be on the front page of each paper, and it would be labelled as being ‘exclusive’ to each of the papers even though the three stories would contain the same information but would be written by different reporters.
“We thought about it for a while but eventually thought there’s no way such an event would ever happen. If it did it would destroy the credibility of all three newspapers.
“Imagine the same story by different reporters all being claimed as ‘exclusives’. It’s just not possible.
“So we accepted the bet and to our horror on Saturday morning we found out The Courier-Mail in Brisbane, the Daily Telegraph in Sydney, and the Herald Sun in Melbourne all had the same story as ‘exclusives’ on their front page (pictured).
“The story was about extra federal funds to encourage women’s sports.
“We thought we might have a legitimate ‘out’ from honouring the bet when at first we couldn’t find the story on the Courier’s front page. But there it was down the bottom left-hand corner, even if it was just a two-paragraph pointer to the full story further inside the paper.
“It wasn’t long before the man who placed the bet made an online claim for his winnings which we naturally had to pay him.
“I will not disclose the size of his bet or the odds we gave him but, sadly, it was big enough to bankrupt PuntFace.”
Ms Quinn said the IT systems used by PuntFace Bookies meant it was not possible to positively identify account holders who often registered under names other than their own.
“All we can determine from our online records and an analysis of the data held in our off premises servers is that the man who sent us broke held an account under the moniker ‘SM’ and probably lives somewhere around Adelaide Avenue in Canberra,” she said.