premier punt closedPremier Punt began life in 2013 as a fantasy football themed betting site that allowed punters to run fantasy teams and leagues alongside traditional sports bets.  following a business analysis in 2018, the parent firm, opportunity group limited based in edinburgh, agreed to turn the site into a fully-fledged sportsbook/casino by renting the website to companies like axl internet, which ran the flagship punt location.  however, this was closed to the uk on 6 march 2020 with the company canceling all ante-post bets, along with their other name, betsid.

at the moment this is becoming a familiar trend in the uk with premier punt and betsid the latest in a line of brands to close with little warning, like moplay recently, or exit the uk market, like comeon and royal panda.  it represents the challenge that smaller and non-uk-focused companies face in a market that is highly limited in contrast with others and has higher tax rates, let alone one of the world’s most congested and volatile markets.

premier punt and betsid, who run their sportsbook on the sb tech platform, have been having cash-flow difficulties for some time (see below) and it would be prudent if you were a customer to withdraw any funds immediately.  customer assets are actually held in a separate account as the corporation has only a limited standard of insurance as specified by the ukgc deposit security system, ensuring that if they go insolvent (as moplay did last month) players may not get their money back at all as the account is still listed as part of the firm in the case of failure, though separately.

the premium punt, 21bet, and bet sid brands have closed down, please contact support@incentivegroup.co.uk if you have any funds left in an account with those brands.

there were the alert signals

21bet old site closedCustomers may have been largely unaware but advertisers have known since late 2019 that the brand was in trouble due to repeated failed payments.  A source at the company told us in January that the company were pushing through an ‘internal purchase’ and this was having ‘considerable cashflow issues’.

the opportunity group has its sites dedicated to development in the uk at the beginning of 2019 and acquired the brands betsid and 21bet as part of this.  Both had previously been FSB white labels who’s owners went into administration and the Incentive Group bought the sites and moved it onto the SB Tech Platform, the same as Premier Punt.

betsid seems to be doing well but after plenty of early noises about 21bet from the reward party they soon went quiet on the company, many believe they had purchased a dead donkey and it wasn’t what they hoped it would be (see our article on what happened to 21bet).  21bet closed late 2019.

curiously, the site was immediately shut down around the time 21bet suspended operations with consumers having to contact help to remove funds.  this is rare as most places remain available to withdrawals after a certain amount of time.  this was presumably intended to slow down the process of sales, in accordance with the fact that the company had cash flow concerns.

therefore, given the knowledge the premier punt has now closed, it is possible that the company was unable to raise funding needed to support current debt, and opted to withdraw from the market in order to reduce further losses.

now why? The Cheltenham Festival!

cheltenham racecouse standsThe reason the Incentive Group have chosen to close now and to not fulfill ante-post bets is because the biggest betting event of the year hits from the 10-13th March, the Cheltenham Festival.

the favorites have done well at the festival in recent years and bookies have suffered, this was undoubtedly a great concern in the reward group’s minds contributing to a swift shutdown.

closing places is rare, and not honoring current bets.  in particular, the ukgc made it clear last year that they need operators to have adequate frameworks in place for settlement of ante-post bets in case a business shuts down.  the fact that premier punt and betsid cancel all current bets is once again a indication that they fear they can’t afford to shell them out if cheltenham doesn’t make their way.

can you get your cash back?

note of completion of first punt

Currently yes, the firm is still operating and, as stated in the ukgc deposit scheme, reward media is obligated to keep funds and stakes in an separately audited separate account for unsettled bets.  this means your money is there and you can remove it, by signing into the web at the time.  a time can come that the site is permanently closed so if you email them directly you can still get your money back (support@premierpunt.com, support@incentivegroup.co.uk).

however, given that the company and brand have obvious cash flow concerns, it would be prudent to issue a notice for withdrawal as soon as possible.  lessons should be learnt from moplay’s very recent crash, which stayed open to deposits for a few days before becoming insolvent.

mishandling or misfortune?

rate reductionThere are plenty of successful small betting companies in the UK so it is difficult to say there has not been some mismanagement.  it’s a typical story, a brand founded as a sports site (in this case a fantasy sportsbook theme) and then tries to try to curtail the traffic by converting it into a sportsbook/casino.  it’s a story that always falls short.

competition in the uk is very expensive, it is one of the world’s most competitive markets with some of the largest global betting giants headquartered here.  it is hard to survive without substantial investment and a big bank-roll.  It seems the Incentive Group put a lot of money and faith into 21Bet and this back-fire set them on a spiral they couldn’t recover from.

it is unreasonable though to say that other considerations have not come into effect.  the latest reforms in uk gaming laws along with revised proposals for minimum stakes online and a proposed gambling act mean that small firms are having to adapt faster than large ones.  the government also raised the sales tax rate from 15-21% last year, which is again more difficult for smaller retailers to bear as opposed to larger bookies.

will premier punt come back, or betsid?

premier puntAt this point it is anyone’s guess whether we will see them again, the brands, unlike MoPlay, have not suffered negative press and are still a viable names.

there is a chance that someone will purchase the sites and accounts, or just the name and start a new site.  When this continues it’ll possibly soon be.  since betsid was already in her second iteration we are less likely to see them again.

if everything changes we’ll let you know in the near future.