666Bet LogoHopefully you’re not a diehard 666Bet or Metro Play fan, and hopefully you haven't invested a lot of time and energy into their various loyalty schemes. That's because the UK licences for both of these sites are currently suspended and a criminal investigation into fraud is pending, which also means that neither of these sites is operational at the moment. It's rather confusing as to what's going on at the moment, but we've got to the bottom of it all.

The Situation

If you’re a player at either of these sites, you may have noticed that over the weekend you were unable to log in and play. The reason given on the sites was that maintenance to improve players’ experience was taking place, which we now know is a smooth lie. In fact, what had happened was that the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) had withdrawn 666Bet’s licences (and as the operator of Metro Play, it included this brand too), meaning that both sites had to immediately suspend their operations to avoid breaking the law (even further).

The Arrests

Today it emerged that the suspensions of the licences coincided with the arrest of at least seven people – including the director of 666Bet – who is being held on suspicion of taking part in a fraud and money-laundering ring, involving at least £21 million. The director was arrested at Heathrow Airport as part of the investigation which includes Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs and the National Crime Agency. The only name of arrestees which has surfaced is Paul Bell – an investor who holds a stake of 666Bet.

The Players’ Money

It's understandable that players with cash tied up in either casino would want their money back. While it’s not exactly certain that either of these brands will be shutting down for good or cease trading in the UK (the investigation is ongoing and the licences have just been suspended, not revoked), the UKGC has ordered that all player funds be returned as soon as possible. Should the sites reopen for trading, player accounts will all still be operational and it will simply be a case of people needing to re-deposit their money in order to play.

The Investigation

The investigation is far reaching and covers a number of different commercial entities. Along with 666Bet, another 25 firms are also being investigated. Documents have been removed from 13 premises which have been raided and £1 million in cash was seized too. All those currently in custody or under investigation deny wrongdoing. The UKGC is yet to make an announcement on the investigation, but while it’s ongoing both brands will remain closed for business – that much is for sure.

The Fallout

To distance itself from any kind of scandal, the English League One third-tier football club Leyton Orient has already announced that it has terminated its sponsorship deal with 666Bet. Considering that the Metro Newspaper has allowed 666Bet to operate a casino under its name, it will be interesting to find out how it chooses to respond to this crisis. It seems unlikely that the paper will want to risk dragging its name through the mud, but whether it can refuse to continue its agreement depends entirely on what its agreement with 666Bet entails.