Harry Redknapp, 666Bet, Metro Play liquidation

Harry Redknapp, who appeared in TV spots for 666Bet before the arrest of director Paul Bell brought the company crashing down. (Image: independent.co.uk)

Metro Play Ltd, operator of troubled betting websites 666Bet.com and MetroPlay.com, has been issued with a compulsory liquidation order by the online gaming licensing jurisdiction of Alderney.

Former Metro Play customers who are still owed money by the company have been instructed to contact the liquidator, KPMG Channel Islands, in order to see redress.

Metro Play marketed big when it arrived on the scene, hoping to become a big player in the lucrative UK sports betting market.

With a TV advertising campaign that starred soccer coach Harry Redknapp, a shirt sponsorship with soccer team Leyton Orient, and betting partnerships with several others, the company quickly began to make the desired impact.

But suddenly, in March 19, Metro Play had its gambling license revoked by the UK Gambling Commission for reasons that were unspecified at the time.

The regulator simply said that the company was “unsuitable to carry on the licensed activities.”

Paul Bell Arrest

Shortly after, Paul Bell, a Metro Play director, was arrested in London as the center of a £21 million ($31 million) tax fraud and money laundering investigation.

The former stockbroker was released by police before being re-arrested the next day when he arrived on the Isle of Man by private jet.

Metro Play has always insisted that Bell’s allegedly criminal activities had been completely unrelated to the operations of the two gambling websites.

However, nervy customers who tried to withdraw funds in the aftermath were unable to do so.

The Alderney regulator, it seems, had informed Metro Play’s suppliers, including payment service providers, that its license had been revoked and they broke ranks, cancelling their contracts with the embattled company.

While customers angrily demanded their money, Metro Play claimed it was unable to function or to process the simplest transaction.

Payments Dry Up

“While the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) have stated that we do not require a licence in order for customers to withdraw their money and authorised us to do so, this is misleading as it does not recognise the fact that, as a web-based company, we need to be online in order for customers to action their withdrawals via their accounts,” pleaded Metro Play.

The company eventually struck a deal with Skrill and began processing payments in May, although these appeared to dry up at the beginning of June.

The UK Gambling Commission posted notice of the liquidation order on its website this week, and stated that Metro Play’s license “has lapsed” and that the company was “no longer licensed to provide facilities for gambling” in the UK.

The regulator added that it “does not know whether this development will have any impact on the payment of outstanding balances to customers.”