Several customers of Winners Incorporated yesterday held hostage some staff members and customers of the entity for several hours at the sports betting company’s Broad Street office in Monrovia until officers of the Liberia National Police (LNP) arrived and calmed the situation.
The customers, who became violently disgruntled, alleged that Winners Incorporated had refused to pay L$1 million some of the customers won yesterday, February 13 through placed bets.
As an international sports betting company, Winners Incorporated has reportedly boosted the Liberian economy over the years by providing jobs for hundreds of Liberians.
But yesterday, the aggrieved customers besieged the entrances to the facility and prevented movement of the staff and other customers from entering and leaving the facility.
The protesting customers claimed that their action was to compel the company to pay them the L$1 million they reportedly won yesterday, Tuesday, February 13 from a bet.
Anthony Beh, one of the protesting customers, said that each of them won amounts of money ranging from L$100,000 to L$150,000, totaling L$1 million.
Beh claimed to have won L$157,090 after betting with L$5,200, adding that there are about 100 customers who won from a variety of the betting tickets.
Another customer, Wallace Saongbae, expressed disappointment with Winners’ refusal to pay her customers, adding, “The company paid other people this morning, but for us, the management has blatantly refused.”
Wallace threatened that aggrieved customers will intensify their protest if the sports betting company continuously fail to pay out winners.
For Samuel Sarfie, a customer, he believes that the company’s action not to pay her customers is deliberately meant to deny them money that they had legitimately won from Monday’s game between Al-Ahly and Al-Mokawloon of Egypt.
According to Sarfie, the company is overwhelmed by the amount of money and is unable to pay, adding, “We cannot compromise our hard won money.”
Winner’s Marketing Manager, Fallah Braima, who the protesting customers prevented from entering his office, told reporters afterward that the company cannot pay the demanded money, “because management detected lots of mistakes on the tickets printed for the customers.”
Braima admitted that the total winning odds was mistakenly placed at 30.21 instead of 1.27 and argued that it was a ‘systems error.’
He said Winners Incorporated would pay at 1.27 and not at 30.21, and therefore, challenged the aggrieved customers who have a problem with the management’s decision to seek redress through the legal system or its parent organization, the Liberia National Lottery.
Quoting Winners’ terms and conditions, Braima said the company assumes no responsibility for typing, transmission, and evaluation errors.
According to him, Winners Incorporated maintains the right to correct ‘apparent errors’ that occurred during betting odds or filing and to cancel bets where apparent odds error occurs and does it also after the completion of the event.
“Cancellation of the bets with incorrect odds shall apply to all customers who filed a bet during a period of incorrectly put up odds regardless of winning or losing a bet,” Braima said.
He explained that management’s terms and conditions were circulated to customers across the country where the staff held a series of forum to educate customers on sports betting rules and regulations.
Braima later called officers of the LNP, who pacified yesterday’s heightened tension.